A new report from award-winning provider of market intelligence services, Valour Consultancy, suggests that wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) will be installed on almost three-quarters of the global narrow-body fleet by 2030, up from just over a third today.
The report, “The Future of in-Flight Entertainment – 2021 Edition,” shows that although wireless in-flight entertainment installs did decrease by 19% in 2020 compared to the previous year, the market has remained resilient in the face of the pandemic with the installed base still managing to grow. This is in contrast to the seatback IFE market, which saw annual installations fall by 60% during the same period and a number of already equipped aircraft removed from the fleet.
David Whelan, author of the report, explains, “The pandemic has accelerated the need to digitalise the aircraft cabin, and many airlines see the installation of W-IFE as a central component of that process, as it allows for touchless seatback pockets, showcasing in-flight catering and retail options on passengers’ own devices. That’s a good example of how W-IFE solutions are moving away from traditional entertainment offerings, such as movies, music and TV shows, and encouraging different forms of ‘in-flight engagement.’”
As a result, Valour Consultancy predicts that there will be a significant change to the way W-IFE systems are installed over the next few years. “Today, the vast majority of W-IFE systems are retrofitted. In 2020, the ratio of retrofit to line fit installations was an unprecedented 96:4 – due in the main to massively reduced aircraft production,” Whelan says.
“However, industry developments, such as the Airbus Open Software Platform (OSP) and Boeing’s Digital Direct, will drive an increasing number of systems fitted at the factory,” he continues. “As such, we believe that line fitments will account for just under half of total W-IFE installs by 2030.”
The report also explores how W-IFE installs are related to the rollout of in-flight connectivity (IFC). In the past few years, unconnected W-IFE systems have taken precedence, but as more airlines adopt IFC in the long-term, Valour foresees that internet-enabled W-IFE will account for 84% of installs by 2030, up from 46% in 2019. “Unconnected offerings will certainly prove useful for airlines looking for a cost-effective way to win back passengers post-COVID, but they will become less relevant as carriers look more holistically at digitalising the aircraft cabin.”
Valour Consultancy is a provider of high-quality market intelligence. Its latest report, “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment – 2021 Edition”, is in its third edition and a key part of the firm’s highly regarded aviation research portfolio. Developed with input from more than 30 interviews with companies across the value chain, the study includes 55 tables and charts along with extensive commentary on key market issues, technology trends and the competitive environment.