The San Francisco-based carrier last year generated big news headlines when it selected BoardConnect as the next iteration of its “Red” platform; Red is currently powered by Panasonic Avionics’ audio/video on demand system.
“The Virgin America case is a little different than the others because with Virgin America we are also doing the in-seat screen plus we are doing a lot of special product features and software development, which is the reason why we are planning a mid-next year release,” says BoardConnect head of programme management Norbert Müller. “There is one aircraft flying already, but that is just a prototype installation.”
Müller says Lufthansa Systems and Virgin America have jointly added some features to the system, and given those developments, “we wanted to launch it all in one batch”. Lufthansa Systems is also preparing to launch a BoardConnect trial with another Virgin group carrier, Virgin Australia, on a single Boeing 737 after announcing the testing in late 2011. “We can’t make any announcements for Virgin Australia, but it is going to be within the next few weeks,” says Müller.
For the time being the trials are being contained to one aircraft, “then obviously they will evaluate the trial and then see how we deal with the roll-out situation”.
In the meantime Lufthansa Systems plans to update BoardConnect this fall to support personal electronic devices running on the Android operating system. The company has also already developed an application for Windows 8 ahead of the new operating system’s release, “which will give a greater variety of devices that can use the system, which is something people want”, Müller states.