Thales forges Chinese partnership to bring IFE to Comac's C919

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Thales has become the latest in-flight entertainment (IFE) supplier to announce it is laying the groundwork to integrate IFE platforms into the 156-to 190-seat C919 narrowbody being developed by China's Comac.

The firm has signed a letter or intent with Comac and a memorandum of understanding with China Electronics Technology Avionics (CETCA) to launch the Thales IFE system on the C919, which is expected to take its first flight in 2014.

In a statement, Thales says the system installed on the C919 "will be a scalable platform offering a modular entertainment experience which will include interactive audio solutions through to full in-seat on-demand services.

"Future evolutions of this system may include wireless networks and [in-flight] connectivity."

Thales has secured a growing list of clients in China. Customers include Air China, China Eastern and others.

"For these and other carriers, Thales continues to expand its product support capabilities in Beijing, establish nearby media distribution centres, and develop new partnerships with application developers," says Thales, adding: "With Comac and CETCA, Thales now demonstrates its ability to mobilize more resources and build relationships that provide immediate value to China and its local airlines."

Thales is not the first IFE firm to announce an arrangement with Comac. In October Comac selected Rockwell Collins to provide in-seat IFE for its C919.

Rockwell Collins is teaming with Shanghai Aero Measurement-Controlling Research Institute (SAMRI) on the deal. SAMRI will support Rockwell Collins in the design, development and integration of the IFE.