Passengers on the Qantas fleet of 767 jets in Australia are going to get an iPad placed in the pocket before each seat. And the seemingly generous move could pose a threat to that old passenger favourite, seatback TVs.
The airline has 23 Boeing 767-300 aircraft, each with between 229 and 254 seats, so around 5,000 of the tablets will be required , said website ZDNet.
Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said in a statement,"Following the successful trial of our QStreaming service this year, we will partner with Panasonic and use their eXW solution to provide over 200 hours of on-demand in-flight entertainment content via iPads to every passenger in Business and Economy travelling on our B767 fleet."
The free service will start to roll out in the fourth quarter of this year. Most flights offering the service will be on Australia's east coast routes, with some also going to Perth in Western Australia. International flights are not mentioned.
One clue as to an extra benefit of the iPads for the airline: big savings on fuel. A published picture of a passenger using an iPad shows NO seatback TV competing for her attention.
The Sydney Morning Herald points out that using lightweight tablet computers allows airlines to greatly reduce the weight of their aircraft, by removing existing inflight entertainment systems. With seatback TVs, these can weigh more than two tonnes. Could some airlines be thinking of that on international flights, too?
A week ago Qantas said it was giving iPads to its pilots to cut down on the paperwork they had to take on board. The airline is also giving up its BlackBerry cellphones fleet in favour of iPhones.
Virgin Australia has also being trialling inflight entertainment via pre-loaded Samsung Galaxy tablet computers in its business class cabins.