Thales works to support Qatar's A350 IFEC ambitions

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In-flight entertainment specialist Thales is continuing to work towards receiving offerability from Airbus for its Ka-band satellite-based airborne connectivity system on the A350XWB, as it looks to support Qatar Airways' plans for offering a step change in the in-flight passenger experience, as well as other customers.

"Thales is able to offer Ka as part of the catalogue process, but the official offerability is pending a technical and development schedule review on the part of all parties," said the firm.

"Installation provisions are being developed to support Ka in the future on the A350 aircraft for Qatar [Airways]," it added.

Qatar recently picked the Airbus ALNAv2 standalone connectivity solution for its 80 A350s and with it Airbus/SITA joint venture OnAir's full cabin communications suite, which runs over Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband aeronautical service.

The move, representing a major coup for OnAir, meant that Qatar had opted not to select Thales' own SwiftBroadband-supported in-flight GSM/Wi-Fi solution for its A350s, despite the fact that the manufacturer is providing the carrier with AVANT, a 'connected' Android-based in-flight entertainment system for the widebody jetliners.

Though Thales' statements indicate Qatar's interest in Ka-based connectivity for the A350, is not yet clear if the carrier has officially opted to offer Ka once Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka service is made available around 2014.

Thales told FlightglobalPro that, with respect to connectivity, both it and Qatar "are working in coordination with OnAir for both the airline's [Boeing] 787 and A350 fleets".

Meanwhile, details recently emerged about Qatar's agreement to equip its A350s with AVANT, which offers high definition video, solid state hard drives and faster processors.

Passenger touchscreen displays will range in size from 10.6in for economy class to 17in. An award-winning 'touch passenger media unit' or TouchPMU will be offer "in all classes, including economy class", said Thales.

Passengers will also be able to interface their personal electronic devices to the system allowing them to enjoy their own content through the in-seat screen. "For iPod connectivity, a special USB jack is provided which is one of our Smart Passenger Interface Modules options. It is called the iPort," said Thales.