Airline customers of Row 44 are putting pressure on airframers to make the company’s inflight Internet, IPTV and streaming VOD services linefit offerable on aircraft, Row 44 reveals.
Speaking to the APEX editor’s blog on board Row 44’s Grumman Albatross test-bed aircraft, company chief technical officer John Guidon said: “We’re doing our groundwork in support of [linefit offerability]. We recently got through the whole AS9100 [quality management system for aerospace] … We’re engaged with Boeing on a couple things.”
Like any linefit situation, adds Guidon, “it won’t come overnight. We’ll work towards it and maybe it will come in incremental steps. I know our customers, the airlines, are putting pressure on the airframers and that’s good news for us.”
Some 400-plus Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s now offer Row 44’s Ku-band satellite-supported inflight Internet and IPTV services, and the carrier is trialling VOD. Norwegian also offers Row 44 inflight Internet on its fleet of 737s. South African carrier Mango, Icelandair and Russian operators Transaero and UTair are also customers.
Special purpose acquisition company Global Eagle last last year announced plans to acquire Row 44 (the deal is expected to close shortly). When the deal was announced, Global Eagle founders, MGM ex-chairman and CEO Harry Sloan and former Sony Pictures co-president Jeff Sagansky said they wanted to be able to convince content providers to allow them to stream earlier window content to passengers’ own devices.
I asked Guidon if any headway has been made with the studios. “I think it’s too early,” he says. “We’ve had decent progress with the studios with our existing solution. There is always this tradeoff to be made between the solution and what they’re prepared to allow as content. We’re in a great situation, I think, in as much as we have good content today and we also have good industry relations and I believe that over time, as our solution becomes either more defended, more bullet proof – from a studios perspective – and the studios become more trusting of it, then I think we’ll have a better situation even than we have today.”
For more details about Row 44’s expansion plans, check out this video, which was filmed on board the Albatross last week during International CES in Las Vegas.