Cost of those seat back videos

IFE systems are among the costliest parts of a plane
Inflight entertainment costs airlines a lot
Inflight entertainment costs airlines a lot

One of the few pleasures of a long-haul flight is watching three or four films in a row. But have you ever thought what goes into those tiny headrest screens?

A report in The New Yorker magazine has revealed the astonishing economics involved.

Inch for inch, inflight entertainment systems are among the costliest parts of a plane.

According to James Park Associates, a London-based firm that designs plane interiors, each screen costs “about $1 000 an inch”. So, that small screen in the back of your economy seat cost the airline £6 000 (about R108 000).

The high expense is because aeroplane electrical circuits are so complicated to install.

Wiring has to be fireproofed and the circuits that run the entertainment system, heating, air circulation and main controls have to be isoylated from each other.

The danger is that crossed wires could allow a child playing a videogame to accidentally take control of the cockpit — an alarming thought at 35000ft.

Some airlines are now moving to a system where passengers provide their own entertainment via ipads etc and the airline supplies the connectivity – at a cost.