PARIS 2009: Thales and Diehl team to offer complete cabin systems
Thales Aerospace and Diehl Aerospace are combining to offer an integrated solution for cabin systems, ranging from inflight entertainment (IFE) and connectivity to lighting and cabin structures.
The last of these elements has been brought into the combination with the acquisition by Diehl of Airbus’s Laupheim business in late 2008.
Alan Pellegrini, VP and general manager inflight systems, Thales Avionics, reported that the company has added a number of significant customers in the IFE sector over the past 12 months. In particular he highlighted the contract with British Airways which covers 40 widebody aircraft and which will eventually extend to the entire BA widebody fleet with retrofits.
Thales has also been contracted to provide the connectivity equipment for BA’s new Airbus A318s which will begin service from London City Airport to New York in September this year. These aircraft will have Swift Broadband and a Class 7 GSM capability through OnAir, in which Thales has a stake along with SITA and Airbus.
At the show, Qatar Airways’ announced on 15 June that it would buy 24 Airbus A320 family aircraft and Pellegrini revealed that these aircraft will feature a full Thales audio/video on demand (AVOD) system. “We’ve also had renewal orders this past year from carriers such as Korean Air, AirAsia X and Etihad,” he said, “We now have around 50 customers and estimate that we have won 40% of all new business in the past year,”
Pellegrini gave the reminder that connectivity “is not what’s in the future, it’s here now, with Swift Broadband, WiFi, GSM and integration to the IFE”. The company has 17 customers so far. “They range from basic sitcom through to integrated TopConnect solutions,” he noted. “And I challenge anyone else offering these systems today to match what we offer.”
Diehl Aerospace’s Walter Fleischmann stressed the importance of cabin lining and how it influences the passenger experience. “It’s everything that makes you feel comfortable, but it all goes on in the background. We aim to work to create an environment in the cabin which takes into account every element, including the IFE and connectivity systems. This will help the cabin play a bigger role for the airlines as it will help them to reflect their own brands and differentiate their product,”
Explaining the need for a cabin integrator, Fleischmann noted the huge potential for cost reduction. “There are economies of scale on materials, reduction in weight and reduction in power,” he commented. “With this combination alongside Thales there is no player in the market that can offer the electronic competencies with the structural and electrical competencies that this partnership offers.”
The only area in the cabin which the pair will leave alone is seating, because, as Pellegrini explained, “There are already plenty of seat manufacturers (often with a number of different seat types) and the airlines really like to make their own choices.”
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net