So much has changed — domestically and in the world at large — since the UK government released the Integrated Review and MoD Command Paper in early 2021.
Thales lands mega-deal with British Airways
The intensity of the competition between the two companies dominating the top end of in-seat IFE is revealed by two newly announced orders. Thales, currently the No 2 in the market, has landed a massive order for installations of its TopSeries AVOD product in dozens of new British Airways aircraft. Meantime, acknowledged leader Panasonic is to supply its Digital MPES broadcast system to low-fare carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle for its fleet of 45 Boeing 737-800s.
Irvine, California-based Thales has also announced that next year will see the introduction of a versatile, lightweight version of TopSeries aimed at the narrowbody and regional jet markets.
Thales will start delivering TopSeries to British Airways in 2010 for installation in the Boeing 777-300ERs and 787s and Airbus A380s that the carrier has on order. The 777s are due to enter service from 2010, the A380s from 2012 and the 787s from 2014. BA has ordered six 777-300ERs, with a further four on option; 24 787s (32 on option); and 12 A380s (seven on option).
British Airways’ decision in favour of TopSeries means that Thales continues to dominate 787 selections – it claims around 70 per cent to date – and is beginning to make up ground in the A380 market, in which Panasonic still has a substantial lead.
As implemented with BA, TopSeries will offer more than a hundred films, 300 TV-style programmes, 400 music CDs, a range of radio programmes and podcasts, new interactive and multiplayer games, and several e-learning applications.
Screen sizes will be15.4in in first class, 12.1in in Club World business class, 10.6in in World Traveller Plus premium economy and 8.9in in World Traveller economy. There will be USB and RCA ports for charging personal electronic devices, laptop power points and a new 3D interactive moving-map at every seat. Noise-cancelling headsets will be supplied in first class, Club World and World Traveller Plus.
As supplied to Norwegian Air Shuttle, Panasonic’s Digital MPES will deliver audio, video, moving-maps and other content to overhead screens in the carrier’s 737s. System features include a head-end that is lighter and smaller in volume than those of earlier systems.
Thales today announced that a new version of TopSeries would be installed for the first time next year, on an Airbus A320. The company say that the system will be configurable by class of service to provide interactive audio only, interactive overhead video, or full in-seat AVOD.
In the first mode it will offer up to 280 channels of high-fidelity audio programming, selected via a newly designed Ethernet passenger control unit (ePCU) in every seat. The ePCUs will be connected directly to the system network so that the seat electronics box can be eliminated, restoring passenger legroom and cutting system weight and power consumption.
In overhead video form the system will support capabilities such as interactive electronic surveys, multiplayer games and route-specific programming, while the AVOD version will feature widescreen displays.
“This is a cost-effective, flexible system designed with smaller airliners in mind. We look forward to rolling it out next year with a leading Middle East carrier,” says Alan Pellegrini, general manager of Thales Avionics’ IFE business.
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