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Top helicopter completions house develops own IFE/comms

9th March 2009 - 15:56 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Italian helicopter completions specialist Servici Elecotteristici Italiani (SEI) is developing an integrated communications/IFE system for introduction from next year.

Headquartered at Monteprandone in central Italy, the company is AgustaWestland’s preferred interiors provider. It specialises in the AW109 and AW139 and provides luxury interiors for about 180 aircraft a year.

SEI’s interiors capabilities include a full design service drawing on the expertise of leading Italian automotive stylists Stile Bertone and Giugiaro Design, the new SILENS noise and vibration-absorbing cabin liner for the AW139, and systems integration for a wide range of inflight entertainment and communications facilities, including Iridium satcoms.

The company currently responds to customer requirements by integrating commercial off-the-shelf IFE and communications subsystems into the aircraft that it completes. But, citing the limitations imposed by the inflexibility of some COTS products, it is now working with a number of Italian companies and universities to develop an IFE/communications package of its own.

SEI is the design authority for the system, with manufacture of the hardware being entrusted to third-party suppliers. The company aims to produce a system that is flexible, readily customisable to meet customer requirements, user-friendly, and capable of being reconfigured by the aircraft operator to incorporate new functions. 

The first prototype is due to be complete by the third quarter of the year. Functional testing is scheduled to take until the end of the year, with work on the first installation to start at the beginning of next year.    

COTS capabilities currently procured and integrated by SEI include cabin intercom and satellite air-to-ground voice and data communications based on the Aircell ST3100 Iridium transceiver; environmental control; 28V/115Hz  power outlets; large-screen displays capable of interfacing with carry-on iPods and laptops; CD and DVD players; and moving-map systems.

SEI is also planning to extend the range of helicopter types that it handles, and to enter the market for refurbishments and completions of light and medium-sized business jets.

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