Thales in the second quarter will bring to market the next generation of its TopSeries in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform.
The new third generation system "is going to enable a much wider range of possibilities than what we've had in the past", says Thales VP media services Stuart Dunleavy.
"From a media point of view, the architecture is becoming much more web-like in its implementation and that creates huge opportunities for my team to be innovative. Additionally, the server has a lot more horsepower, and can hold nearly a terabyte of storage. And the screens have much faster processing ability. They are essentially like mini-laptops."
Thales has had the system in development for some time. "With the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 delays, the equipment didn't get into the market. But this year we have a couple of retrofits that will get it into the market," says Dunleavy.
Korean Air is among the carriers that have agreed to adopt the new system. The airline in September 2007 chose TopSeries for 52 aircraft - 10 Boeing 787s, 23 Boeing 777s and 19 Airbus A330s. A total 20 of these represent line-fit installations.
Says Dunleavy: "For us, we are always waiting for the technology to permit us to do the applications and it's exciting we have the next generation of equipment launching in the commercial arena... 2009 will see the launch of some very feature-rich passenger applications around personal devices but also encompassing personalization, 3D games, animated interfaces and a whole range of different functionality."
A separate agreement with an undisclosed carrier will see Thales integrate OnAir's email messaging solution with its third generation IFE system. That will also launch in the second quarter. "With every passenger sitting in front of a screen, we think it's a good idea to focus on a solution that everyone has access to. The OnAir integration is quite exciting," says Dunleavy.