Panasonic Avionics Corporation: Entertaining Several Million On-Board Passengers Every Year

Originally Matsushita Avionics Systems Corporation (founded in 1979 by Konosuke Matsushita of Matsushita Electric Industrial Corporation), Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC) is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation which focuses on designing and manufacturing in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) systems for airlines across the globe. Headquartered in Lake Forest, California, Panasonic Avionics is a privately held company with operations across the United States and in Japan, Dubai, Singapore, France, London, and Germany.

With major sales offices placed in Europe and Asia, the company has an engineering and development facility located in Lake Forest, California; quality management offices in Bothell, Washington; and manufacturing locations in Osaka, Japan. PAC is compliant with AS 9100, ISO 14001, and ISO2 27000 certification standards. Boasting a customer base of over 275 airliners, over 500 million passengers on various flights come in contact with PAC equipment every year. In 2005, Matsushita Avionics was rebranded as Panasonic Avionics. A pioneer in on-board passenger control units, the company’s first in-flight entertainment system (under the Matsushita name) was installed on the B767-200 in 1981. Their signature IFEC systems were developed from innovations in surface-mount technology that could produce ultra-thin radio. A company of numerous “firsts”, their Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) system was developed in 1998 which became the first full-cabin AVOD (named System 3000) to enter revenue service in 2001. In 2003, PAC was the first company to deliver all digital TV and IFE systems (named eFX). In 2005, they were the first IFEC company to qualify under RoHS environmental design regulations. In 2006, with eX2, they were the first to provide in-service digital twin-aisle systems and the only to deliver Mobile Office. That same year they created a mobile phone and broadband connectivity system, Global Communications Suite, by which passengers could access the internet during a flight. PAC’s offer three categories of in-flight systems: the X series, Digital Multiplexed Passenger Entertainment Systems (DMPES), and Cabin Management Systems (CMS).

The X series is composed of monitors, handsets and servers, and a suite of software for interactive media for each passenger seat. Using the latest in Ethernet, Linux, and MPEG standards, the systems have a flexible, open-architecture platform that can be easily upgraded with new monitors and peripherals. Their system families include: eX1 (for narrowbody, single-aisle aircraft), eX2 (for both linefit and retrofit widebody aircraft), eX3 (their most advanced, tenth generation system for widebody aircraft), eXLite (a cost-effective light-weight, low-power system with fewer line-replaceable units (LRUs)), and eXW (a base-line system with only five LRUs which creates less fuel burn and lower installation time). DMPES is an overhead broadcast solution for single-aisle aircraft in a theater-style configuration. Finally, the CMS are used by cabin crew to control the on-board environment from a single interface. These highly-functional, integrated devices can serve as a mission control center and display flight information, make announcements, be used to monitor and troubleshoot on-board systems, play videos, and many other functions.

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