More details have emerged around Jetstar's plans to implement iPads as in-flight entertainment units, with screenshots of the purpose-built application and content offerings leaked in presentation documents.
Jetstar's iPad lockscreen
(Credit: Stellar Inflight and Bluebox Avionics)
Michael Reilly, CEO of Stellar Inflight, and David Brown, joint MD of Bluebox Avionics — the two company's working with Jetstar to implement the iPad in-flight — gave a presentation to a conference in the US in late February.
The presentation documents, first reported by Runway Girl and Australian Business Traveller, reveal a great deal about how Jetstar plans to implement and maintain the Apple tablets, and what type of content will be available.
According to the presentation, Jetstar will modify the iPad to run a larger battery, which supports a massive 20 hours of use, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to prevent device theft.
In order to use the devices successfully, Jetstar will swap out batteries after each flight to continue usage for the next route of passengers.
The iPads will also be fitted with a purpose-built case, stand and keyboard for passengers.
Jetstar has also customised the device software, developing its own graphical interface and content management system for the iPad in order to make it viable for in-flight entertainment — a process it has conferred over with Apple during the planning phase.
The airline is able to load media content like movies, TV and music onto the device without the use of Apple's iTunes, while providing assurances to copyright holders that the content itself is protected.
Jetstar's custom interface (Credit: Stellar Inflight and Bluebox Avionics)
"A custom encryption algorithm is applied to all content, satisfying all content creators/distributors who've currently tested the security solution. Loading does not involve the Apple ecosystem (iTunes)," presentation documents said.
Reilly and Brown also revealed that Jetstar senior leadership never considered anything but the iPad for in-flight entertainment tablets, despite the bevy of Android-powered tablets released in Australia.
ZDNet Australia contacted Jetstar to see if it would take advantage of the iPad 2 set to be released on 25 March locally, but no response was received at the time of publication.
Presentation documents did say, however, that the iPad's 9.7-inch display was particularly impressive over and above Android offerings, adding that the retina display feature of the iPhone 4 is of particular interest.
"Screen/image quality and interface second-to-none — in our opinion significantly better than Android-powered devices — even without the iPhone 4-style 'retina display' — rumoured to be being held off until iPad 3."
Early release film and television content normally provided to airlines is set to be absent from Jetstar's iPad deployment due to ongoing negotiations with Hollywood studios; however, other content including TV shows, music and other movies will be preloaded.
"Process [is] underway with Hollywood studios for [Early Window Content] but no approvals as yet. [Early Window Content is] naturally desirable, though not necessarily critical to launch due to content alternatives," the pair said in presentation documents.
A screenshot of the TV content (Credit: Stellar Inflight and Bluebox Avionics)
Screenshots suggest that Australian content will feature heavily, including Thank God You're Here and Enough Rope with Andrew Denton.
Jetstar is also in negotiations to present the iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, as well as iTunes games from major developers.
The airline is yet to nail down pricing or a precise release date for the iPad in-flight, but presentation documents suggest that the release to Jetstar's raft of Airbus A320/321 fleet is "imminent".
The documents also suggest that Jetstar will take its iPad devices on international routes as it receives new aircraft through 2011-2015.
Jetstar has been aiming to deploy iPads in-flight by Christmas last year, which has since fallen through with no firm date in sight.