Jetstar to install new lightweight seats with iPad holders

Much has already been written about the in-flight rental of the iPad by airlines such as Jetstar, Iceland Express and airBaltic. In June 2010, Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar became the first airline in the world to offer the iPad for rent in a month-long trial on two routes out of Melbourne. Iceland Express was the first airline to introduce the device for rent on an ongoing basis in November 2010 (on transatlantic flights), while airBaltic just confirmed it will make the latest version of the device, the iPad 2, available for rent in-flight from early June 2011 on. 

Jetstar and the iPad
Initially planned to be rolled out by year-end 2010 across its fleet, but this was reportedly delayed due to contract negotiations with Apple and media outlets, Jetstar is about to roll-out the iPad as its main source of in-flight entertainment. Although no firm date has been announced yet, Group CEO Bruce Buchanan in the April 2011 edition of Jetstar’s in-flight magazine says that the introduction of iPads is ”imminent”. 

iPad seat integration
Jetstar’s iPads will include a novel feature. Flightglobal and Australian Business Traveller report that Jetstar will fit the iPads with a purpose-built case which includes a bracket that lets passengers hang the device at eye level on new ‘Pinnacle’ slimline seats from B/E Aerospace. The seats will come installed on Jetstar’s new A320s (of which it has 44 on firm order) and the airline will also retrofit around 25 aircraft with the new seats during 2011. 

B/E Aerospace has relocated the literature pocket to the top of the Pinnacle seat, which freed up more leg room and allows the iPad case to be clipped backwards onto the seat pocket at eye level. Alternatively, a flip-stand on the case lets passengers rest the iPad horizontally on the seat’s tray table. See this video demonstration for more on the workings of the iPad case. 

The custom case for the iPads will also contain a second battery to allow the device to run for over 20 hours between recharges, as well as RFID tags to prevent theft. The cases will be swapped out during the aircraft’s turn-around time, so the iPads themselves will remain on board, receiving freshly charged battery packs. 

Jetstar has also customised the iPad’s software, developing its own graphical interface and content management system for the device, in order to make it viable for in-flight entertainment — a process it has conferred over with Apple during the planning phase. For example, the airline is able to load media content like movies, TV and music onto the device without the use of Apple’s iTunes, while providing assurances to copyright holders that the content itself is protected. However the latest-release movies could be missing from the menu due to ongoing negotiations with Hollywood studios. 

For more information on Jetstar’s iPad plans, see this presentation  (via Mary Kirby) by Jetstar’s iPad partners Bluebox Avionics and Stellar Inflight. 

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