With frequent good news coming through for PIA in the past few months, an in-flight entertainment system is something we have all been wanting to experience in the national flag carrier. Well, it seems PIA has finally started its journey back in the right direction.
Most people travelling with PIA had been demanding for an inflight entertainment system. Therefore, the airline is now moving forward to induce an Inflight System, where a contract has also been awarded to M/s Aviation Avionics – Pakistani company developing customized systems for the national airline.
However, functionality of the entertainment system is one of the biggest challenges for PIA which has to compete with Middle Eastern & Western carriers that are already offering world class entertainment systems in terms of technology and content variety.
PIA had been trying to upgrade its Boeing 777 fleet since long with off the shelf solutions. However, newer systems also require newer seats and the whole solution becomes expensive requiring hundreds of millions to upgrade even one aircraft, an extremely difficult proposition for a cash-starved company like PIA.
The matter was brought to the notice of the Government of Pakistan which directed PIA to look towards indigenous cost-effective sources. The idea seems better because it will boost the local industries to develop their capability in line with international aviation and safety standards, because nothing can be put on a commercial aviation aircraft unless it has certifications of FAA, EASA, and PCAA.
Not only is indigenization a part of a greater strategy to reduce reliance on foreign sources but it will also create jobs and opportunities for specialists and engineers within Pakistan.
Sources within PIA say that work is underway to develop a new touchscreen-based entertainment system using the experience and expertise of PIA engineers to undergo the modifications required by EGPWS and TCAS modules. A specific service provider will provide the hardware and the requisite safety and operational certifications from the regulators.
The given initiative is hoped to be a marked improvement from the current practice of acquiring systems from international sources at exorbitant costs which are very restrictive and quickly go obsolete.
Having developed a system from indigenous sources will give PIA the flexibility to modify, change and troubleshoot the system at will and at a marginal cost. The total cost for this project will be PKR 700 Million for a fleet of 8 aircraft which is a fraction of the cost estimation mentioned earlier.