UPDATE 2: I just saw OnAir chief Benoit Debains at the Row 44 booth - are these two talking? hmmmm - and suffice it to say that Benoit is ready to do another jig, since OnAir says its solution will be line-fit offerable on the 787 (see blog post below).
During a recent unveiling of its connectivity suite in London, Thales promised that the launch customer for its new connected in-flight entertainment would be BIG.
Well, it's safe to say that Thales didn't disappoint.
By now you've no doubt heard that Qatar will offer the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband-supported Thales IFEC solution on up to 60 Boeing 787s. Cha-freaking-ching.
Obviously, this is fab news for all players involved, Thales, Inmarsat, OnAir and Qatar. Significantly, however, the Qatar deal is big news for 787 customers, many of which have been banging on Boeing's door for cabin connectivity from the get-go (Retrofit your 787 with connectivity? Uh, no thanks.)
I chatted with V Australia's Greg Mashlin today. He knows a thing or two about banging on Boeing's door for connectivity on new-delivery aircraft. V Australia is launching a SwiftBroadband-supported Panasonic/AeroMobile connected IFE solution on its 777s in the near term. But the carrier wanted the solution on delivery. Yes, V Australia is among the carriers that pressured Boeing to agree a connectivity plan for the 777, says Mashlin. "Very much so."
On a personal note, I'm relieved that my inside info on this particular Thales deal was accurate. I thought I was going to have to pair back my wine intake tonight. Crisis averted!
Turn the sound up all the way on this video of my chat with Thales in London.
(Photo above from Dave Sizer's Flickr photo stream.