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  • Inflighto Staff Writer

Why COVID-19 may kill Inflight Entertainment Screens

Updated: Apr 4

In a post-COVID world, Airlines are scrambling to provide passengers with clean cabin environments. As touch-screens come under increased scrutiny as hot-spot transmission points for the COVID-19 virus, tech company Inflighto provides a pandemic-safe moving map for passengers' mobile devices.

International airlines have been working closely with the World Health Organization and the Centre for Disease Control on new protocols requiring the deep sanitization of areas of aircarft cabins that airline passengers repeatedly touch. United States airlines, including Delta, American, JetBlue, Southwest, and United, say they have adopted the new guidelines.

The new guidelines developed by the CDC and the airlines for sanitizing aircraft cabins includes the need to sanitize entertainment touchscreens. Becuause these screens are touched by hundreds of passengers, multiple times during each flight, they are hot-spots for viral transmission.

Airlines are now considering alternatives to touch screen entertainment systems to reduce the likelihood of viral transmission through this technology to safeguard their passengers and to save the costs associated with deep-cleaning aircraft cabins between flights.

Australian company Inflighto has developed a moving-map that works independently of seat-back screens and aircraft avionics systems. Passengers can download the Inflighto app onto their personal mobile devices for access during flight. This removes the need them to touch with potentially infected touch screens to access information in flight. This drastically reduces the likelihood of viral transmission from passenger to passenger and the spread of COVID-19.

Director of Inflighto, Chris Smyth, said that the traditional moving-map is one of the most popular features on inflight entertainment systems and that passengers still expect airlines to provide moving-maps, even in a COVID-19 pandemic environment.

"Airline passengers expect up-to-the-minute information during their flight and COVID-19 hasn't changed this. The Inflighto moving-map offers passengers the ability to access highly-detailed moving maps with information including points of interest, live weather radar, flight data, live marine-tracking and live natural event tracking," said Chris Smyth.

"Unlike seat-back inflight entertainment touch screens, which are touched by thousands of passengers every week, the Inflighto moving-map works on passengers' own mobile devices, allowing them to access information and flight data in a safe and hygienic way. This drastically reduces the chance of contracting COVID-19 and other transmissible viruses through communal screens," he said.

In addition to improved passenger amenity, Inflighto has other benefits to airlines. The CDC airline cabin sanitizing regimes are impacting turnaround times between flights. Contact points in aircraft that passengers frequently touch (particularly seat-back entertainment screens) now require deep sanitization. With over 300 touch-screens on the average airliner, that's a significant burden for airline cleaning crews. Inflighto's technology offers airlines a way to reduce cleaning time and costs by providing a more hygienic alternative to touch screens.

"The Inflighto moving-map can be downloaded by airline passengers from app stores directly onto their own mobile devices. Inflighto also licences its technology to airlines as a 'white-label' solution which allows them to brand it with their own logo. This gives airline passengers a seamless, integrated experience within an airline's own digital ecosystem," Chris Smyth said.

In addition to the hygienic considerations, airlines have already begun removing seat-back entertainment screens for financial reasons. American Airlines has begun removing seat-back screens in their aircraft and installing inflight Wi-Fi technology instead. This reduces the cost of installing and maintaining hundreds of expensive touch-screens on each aircraft in their fleet.

Removing seat-back screens also reduces weight which significantly reduces airline fuel costs. Instead, passengers are encouraged to bring their own mobile devices and connect to their preferred entertainment via Wi-Fi internet. It's a win-win for both passengers and airlines.

"As airlines begin kick-starting their operations and recoup lost revenues after the Coronavirus pandemic, they will be looking to save money wherever they can. This will absolutely accelerate the retirement of the seat-back inflight entertainment screen - there's no doubt about that," said Chris Smyth.

"Airlines were already removing seat-back screens to save money before the global Coronavirus pandemic hit. But now hygiene and passenger wellbeing are much bigger considerations in the COVID-19 environment, we will see airlines move more quickly to remove them," Smyth concluded.

As the world comes out of the COVID-19 cloud and airline passengers once again take to the skies, they will find that everything is a lot more hygienic at 35,000 feet. They will also find that inflight entertainment has changed forever and that the Inflighto moving-map app is leading the charge in keeping them safe from the threat of viral infection in the air.

For all media enquiries or more information on Inflighto's unique and hygienic inflight moving-map technology, please contact [email protected].


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