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Bluebox in Airbus wireless IFE trial

20th October 2008 - 01:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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BRITISH handheld and lightweight IFE provider Bluebox Avionics is to carry out trials of its wireless system with Airbus.

The company’s basic product, the handheld Bluebox Lite, is in use with bmi of the UK, Israel’s El Al and low-fare operator Iceland Express. A semi-embedded system based on Lite and controlled via WiFi wireless is in service with a private BBJ operator.

Airbus plans to try out a version of the latter in its A380 cabin mock-up in Hamburg, using the latest 802.11n variant of WiFi as the control medium. Installation work is due to be carried out over the next four weeks, with the aim of having the system fully operational for demonstration purposes before the end of the year.

“Airbus’ decision to select us for this project underlines our view that we are operating at the very forefront of wireless IFE technology,” says Bluebox joint managing director Rick Stuart. “It also shows that our desire to push the boundaries of accepted IFE system architecture is being taken very seriously by a leading airframe manufacturer.”

Besides Lite and the semi-embedded system, the Bluebox product range includes the Bluebox Core broadcast version and the Ultra highly compact handheld. Bluebox Core uses the company’s basic platform as a head end for an overhead broadcast system. Development of Bluebox Ultra was driven by the physical constraints on current handheld systems. “Logistically, you can put only so many Bluebox Lite-sized units into an aircraft,” says Stuart. “It’s very difficult to serve a 200-seater aircraft with units that size, to manage the batteries and the rest.”

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