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Packet Video Poised for Dramatic Growth on Commercial Jets


ARLINGTON, Va., March 18, 2008 – With active matrix LCD costs declining 30 percent annually, and the price of Local Area Network switch ports dropping in tandem, packet video systems are quickly becoming standard across commercial jets of all sizes. However, the cost savings and safety benefits of bringing images into the flight deck are causing airlines to deploy video technology about three times more rapidly in the cockpit than in the cabin, according to Freesky Research’s upcoming report “Aeronautical Video Networks”.

“Typically, there is a strong correlation between avionics upgrades and IFE installations, but with packet video, airlines are racing ahead with new displays, maps, and surveillance systems, even where they are still deliberating about IFE services,”, said David Gross, author of the report. “However, the choice of Fibre Channel to support ARINC 818 should not be seen as permanent. FDDI was anticipated to be the protocol of the future in the 90s after the 777 entered into service, but was dumped by avionics manufacturers after it lost share to other LAN & MAN protocols on the ground. Similarly, a deterministic variant of Ethernet could still become the long-term standard, which would align cockpit video networks with their data counterparts in the back of the plane.”

The economics of cockpit packet video continue to improve. In addition to the operational savings of reducing clutter in the flight deck, the use of FPGAs has brought down the fixed development costs of new systems over alternative ASIC-based approaches. While the IFE market continues to show strong growth, systems vendors and component suppliers that focus exclusively on the cabin are missing out on opportunities with both new and retrofit flight deck systems.

“Aeronautical Video Networks” will cover the economic models, deployment scenarios, and applications for video networks on both commercial airliners and business jets. It will also assess the future display, communications, and wiring technologies that will grow as video becomes more common on commercial aircraft. More information on the study will be available at the company’s website at

About Freesky Research

Based in the Washington, DC area, Freesky Research is an industry analyst firm covering data communications in air & space.


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