AIX2010: Qatar selects Thales and OnAir for 787 IFE and connectivity

AIRCRAFT INTERIORS 2010: Qatar Airways has chosen the Thales TopSeries system to provide entertainment programmes, along with SwiftBroadband cabin connectivity integrated with the IFE system, for its fleet of 30 Boeing 787s with 30 options.

The first of the new fleet is now expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2011. According to Stephen Vella, the airline’s management advisor, Qatar is not yet sure if the system will be line fit or retrofit for the early members of the fleet. “Ideally, we’d like them to be line fit,” he explained, “but we may have to do with some being fitted with the equipment after delivery.”

The connectivity element of the deal makes Qatar the first airline to have a GSM solution on the 787, noted Alan Pellegrini, vice-president and general manager of Thales’s inflight entertainment systems business.

The new next generation system will allow every passenger to access current news, sports, social networks and other mobile applications using passenger touchscreen displays ranging in size from 10.6 inches to 17 inches throughout the length of the aircraft.

Passengers will also be able to interface their personal electronic devices to the TopSeries system in order to listen to and/or view on the system’s big screens any content they bring on board. The TopSeries system will also feature 3D audio giving the effect of high fidelity surround sound.

Qatar has selected a new passenger controller with multi-tasking capabilities. A pilot unit was shown at the event, but the final passenger control unit will be an intelligent touch screen device that enables passengers to control games and their IFE selections right in the palm of their hand. Tests have been carried out with a controller using the Android operating system. “The look and feel of the GUI will be very different from this product. It is likely to have the look and feel of an iPod,” remarked Vella.

Qatar Airways had previously used Thales IFE and communications systems for 24 A320 family aircraft as well as six retrofits for A320s already in the airline’s fleet.

Photo shows OnAir CEO Benoit Debains, Qatar Airways’ Stephen Vella and Alan Pellegrini, vice-president and general manager of Thales’s inflight entertainment business.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Inflight Online/Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/

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