Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Soon, the Paperless Airplane Cabin
Picking up the in-flight magazine to check out the entertainment available on an airplane or to pass the time while waiting for takeoff has long been a ritual for many airline passengers. Each seat pocket also usually offers an array of other paper items, like a food-service menu, safety instructions and a duty-free magazine for those with the urge to shop. Passengers are also often offered a selection of complementary newspapers and magazines.

But all this paper is environmentally and economically wasteful. And with concerns about ever-tightening margins, airlines have been looking at ways to cut fuel bills by reducing weight. Paper on board is one of the targets.

According to the recent Innovations in Magazines report by FIPP, the international magazine media association, airlines could save about $440,000 a year for every 11.5 kilograms, or 25 pounds, of paper weight eliminated from an aircraft. With large, long-haul aircraft carrying as much as 400 kilograms, or more, of paper per flight , this could amount to tidy savings for an airline over the course of a year.
A new patented file compression technology that transforms magazine and newspaper content into a digital format for integration into an airplane’s in-flight entertainment system is now offering the possibility that airline cabins could become paperless.

The technology, developed by SmarttPapers Aviation, a privately owned, Singapore-based company, has recently been introduced on all Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing 777 flights. According to Koh Kim Wah, a director at SmarttPapers, a handful of other airlines are negotiating with the company to adopt the system.

“This technology helps to remove all the paper on board and also helps the airlines make the passenger happy by giving them a better choice of magazines and newspapers,” Mr. Koh said.

Transformation and compression is the core of the SmarttPapers technology solution....The SmarttPapers technology ... can reduce a PDF file size by 75 times and cut a jpeg image by 300 percent without affecting screen resolution.

Singapore Airlines converted its three in-flight publications to digital formats last summer when two Boeing 777-300ERs began offering the new version of its travel magazine ...

... Customer reaction has been positive. “We carried out a survey recently to seek customers’ feedback and the response was very favorable,”....

The New York Times
June 20, 2011

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