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Qantas to provide wireless iPad entertainment on 767s

Freebie flicks 'n' more for business class, economy class

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Australia's premier airline, Qantas, will provide an iPad to each and every passenger on its fleet of Boeing 767s, beaming free in-flight entertainment using what it dubs its "QStreaming" technology.

"Following the successful trial of our QStreaming service this year," Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said in a statement, "we will partner with Panasonic and use their eXW solution to provide over 200 hours of on-demand IFE content via iPads to every passenger in Business and Economy travelling on our B767 fleet."

The Panasonic eXW to which Strambi referred is that company's Avionics Division's in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) system, introduced last September. One eXW Wi-Fi system, Panasonic says, can offer 40 full-length films and 100 short subjects, enough music to fill 100 audio CDs, digital newspapers and magazines, and cached web content.

The QStreaming tech was tested in a trial run beginning last September. At that time, "customer experience" manager Alison Webster cited the weight – and thus, fuel – savings of the system as one of its advantages. "We are all focused on fuel burn being environmentally friendly and we have huge commitments to sustainability targets," she said.

Strambi was apparently pleased with the results of the trial run. "Our customers were the first in the world to experience the ground-breaking Wi-Fi entertainment technology," he said, "and we received great feedback from our customers during the trial this year."

The Canberra Times reports that the freebie fondleslab lagniappe is "the latest shot in an ongoing war" between Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Qantas certainly seems to have outclassed its rival with its new service. Virgin Australia, the Times reports, is testing its own tablet-based in-flight entertainment system, but it merely preloads Samsung Galaxy tablets with content, and it plans to provide them free to business class passengers only, and to charge economy class flyers for the privilege.

The first iPad-packed Qantas 767 will pick up passengers in the fourth quarter of this year, and will fly "predominantly" east coast routes, plus all the way across Oz from the east coast to Perth, about 2000 miles to the west of Sydney.

Such a flight typically takes about five hours, nonstop, more than enough time to sit through Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D thrice. ®

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