Boeing and Qatar Airways have declined to allow linefit installation on the 787 of in-flight connectivity kits produced or configured by Airbus, leading the Airbus/SITA joint venture OnAir to broaden its partnerships to include new hardware suppliers, OnAir's new CEO Ian Dawkins reveals.
Qatar recently tapped Thales to provide next generation in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems for its 787s, and turned to OnAir for the onboard mobile connectivity. The deal appeared to pave the way for Airbus' ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity solution - supported by Inmarsat SwiftBroadband - to find its way onto the 787.
However, Dawkins reveals the connectivity hardware "is not going to be an Airbus solution" and as such, OnAir is looking for alternative solutions.
He adds "It's a requirement from Qatar. It's a requirement from Boeing as well and I was asked if I would provide the service, which I fully supported."
Thales has also willingly accommodated the requirement. "When we secured the Qatar 787 connectivity programme [in February 2010], we went through the process of looking at available hardware solutions [that] OnAir was using that could be installed on the 787. At that point, we knew we had to develop a different kind of system for the 787. It's not an Airbus [IFEC] platform. We've taken some of the suppliers involved in the market for a number of years and adapted and modified both hardware and software and then made it acceptable, certifiable and applicable to the 787 platform," says Thales vice-president of marketing and customer proposition Stuart Dunleavy.
He believes the market needs to recognize that "in some cases, there is not a one size fits all solution. And service providers need to be willing to work with different equipment providers and equipment providers need to be open to working with different service providers".
As a result, Thales is in talks with OnAir, Aircell, Row 44 and others, reveals Dunleavy.