How to Upgrade Cabin Electronics

The average properly maintained business jet or private aircraft has an estimated operating life of 25 years, and in some cases longer. What qualifies as the latest and greatest inflight entertainment, and the average business flyer or private jet passenger’s comfort expectations, will undoubtably change several times during each jet’s service life.

Many business jets, private jets and commercial passenger airliners will undergo several major cabin retrofits. These upgrade projects will often be focused on various cabin electronics systems.

Some of the Latest, Cutting-Edge Cabin Electronics

  • Wireless charging stations
  • Electrochromic shading for windows, privacy screens and cabin dividers
  • OLED displays to replace windows and to add virtual skylights
  • Projectors
  • Hi-res audio
  • Personal displays
  • Bulkhead displays
  • Touch control units

Planning Cabin Upgrades

There’s often a tipping point when cabin upgrades become necessary. They’re often inspired by specific complaints from owners or passengers, although they can also be scheduled far in advance or be driven by technological changes.

It’s necessary to go into each upgrade with answers to several important questions:

  • What is the goal of the upgrade? What needs to be accomplished for it to be a successful project?
  • How will electronic upgrades impact other cabin systems (seats, tables, etc.)?
  • Where are the existing electronic systems located and how much of those systems are still relevant or require replacement?
  • Are there any new access needs or upgrades that aren’t feasible due to access restrictions (restrictions on wire routing for example)?
  • Does the aircraft’s size or shape make certain modifications impossible or cost prohibitive?

Then there are also a number of safety and certification questions that must be answered:

  • Are all of the planned upgrades certifiable?
  • Are there any potential compatibility conflicts between new systems and the existing systems that will remain?
  • Is there anything about the project, aircraft or plan that will prevent you from making full use of an upgrade’s capabilities?
  • Do you have a test and delivery plan?

OLED Displays and Virtual Skylights

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays are composed of self-illuminating pixels. This new technology is a significant step forward from traditional displays that rely on LEDs to light the screen. LEDs are smaller than most other electric light sources (fluorescent and incandescent bulbs), but they’re too big to function as pixels on a display in someone’s home or in an aircraft cabin.

What makes OLED such an important technology for aircraft cabin applications? Since these displays don’t need a traditional backlighting source like normal LED-based screens, they can be extraordinarily thin and flexible. They can be installed on curved cabin ceilings and walls to mimic the shape and style of windows or skylights.

Because of the individual pixel lighting, OLED displays don’t have “blooming” around bright objects on a dark background, and can achieve extraordinary blacks. OLEDs offer essentially infinite contrast ratios that can’t be matched on traditional LED screens.

Electrochromic Shading

Crystal clear glass that can shade itself at the push of a button feels like a technology right out of sci-fi movies. This type of shading is becoming more common in aviation and is already used on some Boeing 787 Dreamliners to replace pull-down shades. Smart glass can also be used in cabin dividers to increase privacy in various sections of an aircraft’s cabin.

The electrochromic coating is extraordinarily thin – roughly 1/50 the thickness of a hair. The glass’s opacity is altered by a low voltage current that’s sent through the coating.

Creating Individual Sound Zones

Different passengers in different parts of the cabin have different sound needs. Maybe someone wants to sleep while another passenger wants to watch a particularly loud action movie. The ability to create sound zones within a cabin where some passengers can have silence and others can enjoy hi-res audio is a great perk for flyers.

There are a number of approaches one can take for creating sound zones. For example, engineers can identify sources of noise, measure and track noise levels and then develop dampening treatments and techniques to reduce those noise sources.

A variety of materials and hi-res speakers may be used in combination to create various zones. These solutions often must be customized based on the size and shape of a cabin and altered for different noise sources.

Get Help Modernizing Your Cabins from Rosen Aviation

Rosen Aviation is proud to work with other cabin electronic leaders to develop an array of cutting-edge IFE and cabin comfort solutions. Our team of designers, engineering specialists, manufacturing experts and testers are committed to creating the aircraft cabin technologies of tomorrow.

If your company is looking for customized cabin upgrades or in-flight systems to enhance passenger comfort, contact us at 888-668-4955.