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bcbhokie
Topic Author
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2004 7:30 am

IFE Certification Process?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:46 am

From what I understand, in-seat IFE systems (with LCD screens) are rather expensive to install, far much more so than the parts content would lead you to believe. (Wal-Mart sells entire portable DVD players with similarly sized screens at a profit for under $100 these days). Even factoring in the control electronics, there has to be a huge markup in this industry.

It boggles my mind that there are still huge fleets of 757s (for example) flying around with bulky CRT monitors hanging in the middle of the aisle. Even if in-seat IFE wasn't installed, it seems like (from a parts cost perspective at least) a retrofit of 17" LCD panels in place of those CRTs should be extraordinarily cheap and a no-brainer upgrade choice for the operating airline(s).

What kind of certifications does an IFE system have to go through before installation? The actual engineering work to design the system can't be that difficult - any electronics/computer engineer could build a custom IFE system off the shelf relatively easily with a bit of mechanical assistance - but my guess is that the massive markup comes from a combination of the relatively low production volumes for the IFE systems and from some sort of certification process required before it's allowed to fly on board a commercial aircraft.

If anyone has experience in this area - even if it's just knowing the sticker price of a typical system - I'd be interested to hear your insights in this thread. It just seems like IFE isn't moving forward at the same pace as the related technologies are outside the aviation world and I'm curious what the hold-up is.

Thanks!
Ben
 
AvionicMech
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:28 am

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 4:04 am

I will write a bit more later as I am kind of short of time at the moment but just as a little note. The controller on our new IFE system which is only a broadcast system, as in just over aisle and bulkhead monitors, is 10K UK pounds. Then you have to factor in the price of at least 1000 UK pounds for each over aisle LCD monitor then there is the Video Distribution Unit which is needed for every two monitors and they are about 1000 UK pounds each. Plus you have to buy the video players which are not cheap either. Then there is any addition wiring that has to be installed and the new mounting hardware for the LCD's instead of the CRT's.

None of this includes the price for getting some to draw up and certify the modification.

But as you say there is a significant mark-up in the price of all these units but that is because they have to be certified for use on aircraft which takes quite some time.

Avionic Mech
 
avioniker
Posts: 1100
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 5:38 am

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 4:23 am

Quoting AvionicMech (Reply 1):
I will write a bit more later as I am kind of short of time at the moment but just as a little note.

I have the same problem but my not quite 2 cents:
There seems to be some question as to the certification or "tso" required for IFE vs MEL equipment.
There are a variety of systems for retrofit and new installation. I don't know if any of the aircraft OEM's have their own certification or not but there are an unthinkable number of STC's out there and every one has to be custom drawn for the current installation.
The costs are astronomical when you factor in the engineering, equipment, and labor to get it done.
On the Global 5000 it can easily add a $million to the purchase price.
On a 757 I once did an interior for the cost was 785K for an off the shelf system by Matshushita. A 320 I did cost 1.2M.
I have a feeling the CRT's will be around for a while yet.
One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533
 
Tod
Posts: 1716
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:51 am

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:44 am

Quoting BCBHokie (Thread starter):
The actual engineering work to design the system can't be that difficult - any electronics/computer engineer could build a custom IFE system off the shelf relatively easily with a bit of mechanical assistance

I'm sure that the bright boys and girls at Rockwell-Collins, Matsushita and Thales would beg to differ. From time to time all three of these very competent companies have struggled to get it right.

As far as cert goes, I'm not in the middle of the IFE game, but from the edge looking in:

First you'll want to submit a certification plan with the FAA and based their review, they will determine whether the project can move forward.

Of course, the entire design must be approved by an FAA Electrical DER.

An FAA Structures DER must approve any structural mods.

All the wiring must comply with SFAR88.

EMI testing happens on the ground an in the air.

Smoke detection testing happens on the ground and in the air.

Although not always a pure cert issue, cooling system airflow must also be tested. (Sometimes the FAA Mechanical Systems DER can approve the design based on analysis or similarity to an existing approved type design)

IFE cabin component installations must be blessed by an FAA Interior Compliance DER for cabin safety issues.

The system must function exactly as intended to comply with 14CFR25.1301

Then you can apply for your Supplemental Type Certificate with the FAA so that the aircraft can return to service and you can install the system on additional planes of the same type design. Unless you go through a Designated Alteration Station, the you'll need an FAA Management DER for this step.

And there is more stuff too, but I've got a video system cooling battle to fight today.


Cheers,
Tod
 
kaddyuk
Posts: 3697
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 1:04 am

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:11 am

Airplane = Expensive...

That stamp at the bottom of an EASA Form 1 is the most expensive part of aircraft spares...
Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
 
MX757
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:38 pm

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:38 pm

We (CO) are currently installing the Panasonic/Matshushita eFX video on demand system in our 757-200 fleet here in MCO.

We are currently working under an EA. FAA Der approved of course. The EA covers all the installation process from removal of the old system to installation and ops check of the new system. I have access to the full EA with the exception of the cost analysis. (Go figure.) But just like Kaddyuk said, "Airplane=Expensive". That's about the best way to describe it.

I can't disclose much of the EA's contents but I'll leave with this little tidbit:

Quote:
Engineering Authorization

757-200 MAS eFX Digital IFE Installation

Background:

As part of the implementation of Go Forward Plan a Video and Audio on Demand (AVOD) system (Panasonic model eFx) is installed in Business First section of the cabin in place of existing IVS.
This system also provides analog video system to broadcast in economy cabin. Therefore, existing AFT VCC is eliminated.
Removal of VCC from Business First and economy cabin results in a substantial weight reduction.

Action:

OP-1
This operation orders parts and installation kits required for seat and aircraft mod to install eFx system.


OP-2
This operation installs:
The necessary hardware for crown area equipment.
The following crown area equipment:
ADB (Area Distribution Unit)
VSEB (Video Seat Electronics Box) as D to A convertor.
Interface wiring


OP-3
This operation:
Removes E4-4 shelf from the A/C.
Removes existing Audio Tape Reproducer tray and its wiring from the shelf.
Installs MUX wiring.
Installs File Server (FS) tray and wiring.
Performs continuity check.
Reinstalls E4-4 shelf on the A/C.


OP-4
This operation:
Removes E3-3 shelf from the A/C.
Removes Airshow tray and wiring (if installed).
Installs System Controller (SC).
Installs necessary wiring for SC.
Performs continuity check.
Reinstalls E3-3 shelf on the A/C

OP-5
This operation:
Removes E2-1 shelf from the A/C.
Installs FMC and Air Data Computer interface wiring.
Performs continuity check.
Reinstalls E2-1 shelf on the A/C.


OP-6
This operation installs Crew panel and Crew panel wiring on Left FWD Windscreen.


OP-7
This operation installs eFx to A/C interface wiring.


OP-8
This operation:
Reconfigures existing VDU to meet Business First configuration.
Adds new VDU to VDU cables.
Installs VDU to E3-3 interface cable.


OP-9
This operation:
At P37 panel removes and discards Audio Tape player and PRAM circuit breakers.
At P37 replaces existing 7.5A overhead video system circuit breakers with 10A circuit breakers.


OP-10
This operation:
Installs seat sidewall cables.
Installs seat-to-seat cables.


OP-11
This operation removes and discards AFT RH stowage bin VCC.


OP-12
This operation performs continuity check of installed wires.


OP-13
This operation performs functional check of disturbed systems due to this installation


OP-14
This operation ensures that intended functionalities of the installed system (eFX) properly functions.


OP-15
This operation:
Assists DER to perform functional check of eFX.
Assists DER to perform EMI/RFI test.
Ensures that STC is obtained before release of the A/C.


OP-16
This operation accomplishes various miscellaneous interior modifications required for installation of the new eFX Inflight Entertainment System.


OP-17
This operation removes existing Individual Video System (IVS) from the A/C.
Is it broke...? Yeah I'll fix it.
 
AvionicMech
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:28 am

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:57 am

MX757, it is interesting that you are installing the eFX system on your 757 fleet at the moment because here at BY we are going to be fitting it to 5 of our 767-300's next winter. What is the system like to work on? I am guessing that you don't have seat-back video in the economy cabin, only your Business First cabin, is that correct? How much down-time does it take for you to install it in one aircraft?

Avionic Mech
 
MX757
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:38 pm

RE: IFE Certification Process?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:13 pm

Quoting AvionicMech (Reply 6):
I am guessing that you don't have seat-back video in the economy cabin, only your Business First cabin, is that correct?

That's correct. I think that they should put it in coach to, but that's not my call.

Quoting AvionicMech (Reply 6):
What is the system like to work on?

It's a nightmare to install. There is alot of wiring I.E. ether net cables, ARINC 429 wires, new power taps from the generator control panels, I can go on and on but I think you get my point.

Once it's up and running I got to tell you it's one hell of a system. I mean pax in BF get 22 movies on demand (unedited), 20 prime time TV shows, and 40 CD's of music to choose from. Coach basically gets movies and TV shows on the overheads and about 9 different music channels.

OP's Checking the system is pretty easy. The only major problem so far is with software. There been issues with corrupt files.

Quoting AvionicMech (Reply 6):
How much down-time does it take for you to install it in one aircraft?

8 days. We started out at 10 but as became more proficient at it they knocked it down to 8.
Is it broke...? Yeah I'll fix it.

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