Modern computer and entertainment technology is moving so fast that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest systems and equipment. Entertainment equipment for the modern business aircraft is no different. Operators wishing to stay up-to-date with current cabin entertainment options may run themselves dizzy sorting through numerous options for cabin displays, audio, lighting or entertainment systems.
Chad Ostertag and Steve Elofson, Avionics Installations Sales Reps, know too well that when it comes to cabin options, the flood of information overwhelms. Chad, Steve and their colleagues field questions daily from operators asking about High-Definition (HD), streaming video, cabin management systems and upcoming entertainment technology.
It is their goal to assist Directors of Maintenance (DOMs) and Chief Pilots in identifying the preferences and technology tendencies of their aircraft owners and operators. “There is a multitude of information and options available and the cost and complexity of an upgrade leaves operators seeking advice and guidance,” Steve says.
Adrian Chene, Avionics Technical Representative, aims to offer intelligent, defendable options. “Asking the right questions and doing the research allows DOMs to identify the types of modifications the owner may be interested in,” says Adrian. “We help them work through the steps.”
So many options are available and new ones are introduced on an almost daily basis. This explosion of new cabin entertainment and control options for business aircraft is exciting. Chad says, “A complete cabin management system (CMS) will allow operators to invest in modern technology while enabling them to accommodate future technologies geared toward the total control of their cabin entertainment.”
CMS refers to any and all interfaces that will permit the passenger or crew to control some aspect of the cabin environment. This can include lights, environment, displays and source equipment, wireless streaming of movies and music via cabin Wi-Fi or digital audio systems.
Many options can require supplements to the type certificate (STCs) for the aircraft so research and education is important. “Due to the certification requirements for aviation equipment, it is sometimes hard to comprehend what is currently available for a specific aircraft,” says Chad.
“To begin, you must have a clear vision of how you want the cabin to function,” says Adrian.
“These decisions should be made before you spec out the system.” And Steve advises operators to commit to the decision to upgrade.
There are risks when an operator elects to pursue only a portion of an upgrade. Some existing systems are too dated and maintenance will be troublesome. Older systems are already pushed to the edge of maximum capacity. And when adding to or changing an existing system for new capabilities, caution should be used.
As it refers to cabin displays, Adrian says, “Go digital or go home.” Digital video sources like High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) will provide the best possible picture for your dollar and ensure a satisfied customer.
Steve says, “When replacing a monitor, a High-Definition Liquid Crystal Display (HD LCD) display is a must. It will be compatible with legacy, standard definition systems and prepare the aircraft for future HD equipment.” Other considerations are HD ultra-thin LCDs, wide-screen formats, plug-in and carry-on.
And do not forget about carry-on equipment. With the recent advancements in Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and their ability to hold huge amounts of music and movie content, interface to the aircraft CMS is a nice option and is gaining in popularity. Understand the equipment and elect connectors and other interface options that won’t become obsolete the next time the newest big thing in the PED world is introduced to the market.
Cabin lighting systems, new to the market, allow the operator to accommodate a request for changes in color, intensity and preset modes.
However, these options aren’t always necessary. Adrian advises to select a lighting system that reflects your primary focus. “Standard LED packages make the most sense for corporate operators looking for long life and virtually no maintenance.”
“Brightness, color temperature and dimming options are the primary considerations when upgrading to LED,” says Steve.
When considering audio upgrades, the first decision is standard or surround. The choice will depend on the needs and preferences of the operator. Steve’s simple advice, “Do not retain existing speakers.” Due to age and deterioration, upgrading speakers will make a world of difference.
No matter what options you consider, Chad encourages operators to purchase for the future. He says to look for options that give the maximum amount of flexibility for interfacing new source equipment and stay educated.
Duncan Aviation’s free ebook, Straight Talk About CMS, gives customers a useful tool to assist in understanding the technologies, researching elements and choosing the best solutions available to them.
Whether operators want to learn about the advantages of a networked system or learn about the newest options available for cabin displays, the ebook will guide operators in their search for answers.
“The ebook focuses on general subjects that we have found arise when discussing upgrades with operators,” explains Chad. “It was written to benefit the customer, through education on what could be possible.”
The best advice our team can give operators is to upgrade for the future. Plan for new technologies to ensure that the CMS you purchase now will prove compatible with future cabin control and entertainment technologies.