Airbus, Panasonic agree IFEC plan for A350 XWB

Last year, the tension between Airbus and Panasonic Avionics seemed fierce. The two parties had yet to reach agreement on offerability for Panasonic’s Ku-band satellite-based Global Communications Suite – with AeroMobile mobile connectivity – for Airbus long-range aircraft, including the A350.

At that time, some industry stakeholders accused Airbus of playing favourites by only making Airbus/SITA joint venture OnAir’s connectivity solution offerable on long-range aircraft. Airbus countered that off-aircraft connectivity had become more non-IFE related “and more related to cockpit and flight-critical communications“.

Fast-forward to 2010, and offerability on the A350, at least, has been sorted out. As reported in February, Panasonic’s Global Communications suite is offerable on the A350. As reported last week, the Global Communications suite will be operated via Panasonic’s connectivity platform – one of three solutions on offer (see below).

So how did the two parties meet eye-to-eye? Hadn’t Airbus wanted Panasonic to integrate with its own ALNA V2 platform?

A source tells RWG that, in the case of the A350, the Panasonic system connects to FSA-NG via the comms manager to use Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband for operational data. The Panasonic system connects direct to Ku for IFE only data.

However, another solution sees Panasonic IFE operated with Airbus’ ALNA V2 platform and OnAir mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Essentially, Airbus has standardized the interfaces that matter the most to the airframer (such as toilets and galleys, as previously discussed on this blog) while not confining the suppliers’ innovation in the seat or IFE.
 
That’s very good news to A350 airline customers that want to offer Panasonic’s high-speed Internet solution to passengers. Now what about those other Airbus types?

Here are the three initial IFEC choices for A350 customers (the Thales deal is in the process of being finalized):

A350 IFEC 2.JPG

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