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The technology behind Emirates’ in-flight entertainment system

What makes Emirates in-flight entertainment award-winning?
  • Emirates is a trailblazer, as the first to offer backseat screens for economy passengers back in the 1990s
  • The airline has an award-winning in-flight entertainment system, featuring a whopping 6,500 channels
  • This system operates seamlessly thanks to a complex and heavily encrypted combination of hardware and software

Published on Apr 26, 2024 at 7:11PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Apr 26, 2024 at 7:11PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood
What makes Emirates in-flight entertainment award-winning
Emirates

Emirates’ in-flight entertainment boasts one of the most advanced systems in the airline industry.

It was the first airline to offer personal seatback screens to economy passengers back in the 1990s.

Since then, it’s firmly established itself as the leader in the world of passenger entertainment.

In fact, it just won the Best Inflight Entertainment Award at the 2024 Airline Excellence Awards.

But how did the airline get to where it is today, and what technology makes this feat possible?

READ MORE: The most exclusive premium first-class cabin returns to US air travel

The UAE-based airline has been a trailblazer in the industry for years.

It was the first to offer closed captions and subtitles on in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, which is now considered a standard.

Emirates also pioneered Audio Description for its entertainment, where a narrator describes what is happening on screen.

In 2022 Emirates announced that the IFE systems of its fleet of 50 A350s will receive a $350 million investment.

These will feature Optiq 4k QLED HDR displays, the only aircraft to do so, allowing passengers to be entertained in over a billion colors.

While this isn’t quite as cool as Jim Carrey’s on-board PlayStation room, as far as commercial planes go, it’s pretty impressive.

These planes will also be the first to offer two Bluetooth connections so that passengers can connect multiple devices like phones, tablets, headphones, or game controllers.

To guarantee consistent performance, even when numerous passengers are simultaneously charging their devices, the airline will employ Thales’ Pulsa power management technology.

Currently, passengers can choose from 6,500 channels of content, including 2,000 Hollywood films and hundreds of complete TV series and boxsets.

There are also 3,500 music albums, live TV channels, and even access to LinkedIn Learning for those who want to use their time in the sky to upskill.

Emirates emphasizes a seamless experience, which requires a complicated combination of hardware and software technologies to work.

Each seat is equipped with a high-definition touch-screen monitor, between 10 and 20 inches in size.

Additionally, Emirates’ aircraft carry onboard servers that store its incredibly large array of content.

These servers are carefully encrypted, which is why movie houses are confident in selling brand-new films to the airline.

Then there are the Wi-Fi routers and satellite communication equipment that allow passengers to access the internet through their screens.

Media is added on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, and uploaded onto portable media loaders.

The loaders use optical connections to ensure high data transfer, so passengers don’t have to wait for their entertainment to buffer.

While all passengers get complimentary headphones, the ones provided in First Class have noise-cancelling technology.

And for those who want to maximize their experience in the air, it’s possible to create a playlist of everything you’d like to watch through the Emirates app.

That way you won’t have to waste any precious time trying to decide what to watch.

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