In-flight Entertainment has been the norm on long-haul flights for several decades. In an age where permanent Internet connectivity is commonplace, in-flight Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity is now becoming a standard as well.
Developing communications technology, the changing nature of the airline industry and the increasing desire for passengers to stay connected at all times are driving the deployment of new services.
Broadband connectivity is drastically changing the consumer passenger experience, the business passenger experience and the operational challenges aircraft operators face.
In-flight Entertainment Market Development
According to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research, increasing adoption of in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems by airlines and private aircraft operators will drive annual service revenues from an estimated $3.7 billion in 2018 to reach over $8.4 billion by 2023.
The research found that systems installation by Low Cost Carriers is a driving force behind this growth. In an extremely competitive environment, commercial airlines such as easyJet are utilizing these systems to differentiate the airline passenger experience.
Juniper analysts found that airlines are increasingly adopting wireless streaming to passenger devices, with penetration in commercial aircraft in West Europe reaching 31 percent by 2023 -- that's up from 23 percent in 2018.
Juniper foresees that the greater cost efficiency of these systems, compared with seatback systems, will enable the increased Low Cost Carrier deployment. Offering entertainment services in the budget segment removes a crucial differentiator for more traditional airlines. That said, Juniper recommended that one area in which legacy airlines can innovate is to offer free, high-quality passenger Wi-Fi.
With connectivity becoming a standard aircraft feature, Juniper predicted that the number of connected aircraft will grow by 118 percent between 2018 and 2023, with over 34,000 commercial and business aircraft outfitted by 2023.
Outlook for Airline Communication Innovation
Improved aircraft connectivity will be leveraged to gain service efficiency owing to predictive, more efficient maintenance, with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors utilized to reduce manual maintenance tasks and improve aircraft safety; allowing improved profit margins for airlines.
"Operational use cases and the significance of the IoT is driving innovation in the satellite sector. Increased demand can be used by satellite operators to justify high capital expenditure required to build new systems, such as HTS (High Throughput Satellites) and S band services," said Nick Maynard, research analyst at Juniper Research.