Virgin A330s to feature eX2 and eXPhone

Virgin Atlantic will equip the 10 Airbus A330-300s due to join its fleet from February 2011 with Panasonic Avionics eX2 in-flight entertainment and eXPhone communication systems. Panasonic says the long-term partnership agreement includes a strategy for full connectivity on board future aircraft and is potentially worth more than $70 million.

The new eX2 IFE system enables passengers to rate the films and read comment and critique from leading film critics. They can also view interviews with the cast and directors, search for their films of choice and create a play list for the flight. The eXPhone component, using AeroMobile’s in-flight GSM phone service, will enable passengers to make phone calls and send and receive texts and emails using their own mobile devices.

“Virgin Atlantic has a well-deserved reputation for leading the way in in-flight entertainment and technology," says the airline’s chief executive, Steve Ridgway. "We were the first airline to offer individual seat-back TVs for all passengers almost 20 years ago, and I have no doubt this system will again set new standards that our competitors will seek to follow.

“The system is simple and intuitive for passengers to use with around 300 hours of entertainment at their fingertips – quite literally using the latest touch screen technology. We are confident that even our more technophobic passengers will find it easy to use."

“We are grateful to Virgin Atlantic for their ongoing loyalty and belief in us as a strategic technical partner," says Panasonic CEO Paul Margis. "This alliance gives us the confidence to push the envelope, continue to innovate and deliver solutions that exceed Virgin’s expectations.”

In premium economy and upper class, passengers will be able to plug in a variety of mobile devices to play their music, videos, pictures and documents on the seat-back screen. Passengers in all classes will be able to plug in a USB to view their own content. Live news updates, destination videos and an interactive map are also available amongst many other features.

Virgin Atlantic’s list of the new IFEC system’s key features includes:

USB Player: Passengers can bring their own USB and plug it into their seat to play their own music or display their photos and documents.

iPod player: Allows passengers to play their music, videos and photo.

In-seat chat: instant messaging between seats.

Update Twitter or Facebook status in the air.

Passengers can plug their camera or camcorder into the seat to view their holiday photos and videos on the seat back screen.

Access to Vtravelled, which provides user generated content from the web site with reviews and recommendations on the destination.

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