No sooner do we get word that BlueBox managing director Rick Stuart is leaving the firm, when, lo, a new in-flight entertainment company and system surfaces. Coinkidink? Errr.
A splinter group from BlueBox, including Murray Skelton and Martin Cunnison, have formed Intelligent Avionics, and launched AURA, billed as "an ultra-lightweight, next generation IFE system", which will premier this April at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
Here's a Q&A document from Intelligent Avionics: IA_QA_003.pdf
Says the firm:
"AURA was developed in response to the industry's widespread frustration with the unreliability and high cost of ownership of IFEsystems. AURA delivers a superior passenger experience and saves more than 1,000 kgs of unnecessary weight compared to traditional server-based in-seat IFE systems, and at a fraction of the total life cost.
"AURA is a PC in the seat. A modern touchscreen entertainment, communication and commerce platform designed for all cabin classes. AURA is the product of years of IFE and avionics expertise, designed in close consultation with major airframe manufacturers and consumer-electronics partners."
The IFE market is getting rather crowed these days, what with IMS' RAVE, Sicma's SiT, Lumexis' FTTS and now Intelligent Avionics' AURA (among others).
Which firm will break a big deal from a major airline and take business away from Thales and Panasonic (or Rockwell)?
Zodiac's Sicma scored a major coup when it recently received linefit offerable status for SiT on the Airbus A330/A340 (Airbus has been very keen to have someone in the low-end segment and I wonder if SiT fit that bill).
Meanwhile, a little birdie tells me that Lufthansa has been giving RAVE a good look.