ALITALIA HAS selected a new entrant to supply in-flight-entertainment systems for its fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-11s. The Italian flag carrier is the launch customer for an on-demand video system developed by Las Vegas, Nevada-based Interactive Flight Technologies (IFT).

A single MD-11 will be equipped with IFT's In-Flight Entertainment Network (IFEN) for flight trials in July. If these are successful, Alitalia will install the system in the first- and business-class cabins of all its MD-11s, says the US manufacturer.

IFT claims that the IFEN is the only system to offer true on-demand video. Passengers will be able to select from up to 30 features, "...all of which can be started, paused and stopped at any time", the company says. Digitised films will be stored on compact disc and down loaded via the cabin file-server to a computer in each seat. The system uses a 240mm touch-screen liquid-crystal display with 640 x 480-pixel resolution.

Steven Fieldman, vice-president for business development, says that ground tests have been conducted and US Federal Aviation Administration certification of the system is under way.

IFT's central ground-system will handle credit-card transactions for passengers, and will be used to upload new programming and games. The US Department of Transportation recently ruled that foreign airlines serving the USA can install in-flight entertainment systems capable of providing video-gaming without violating laws which prohibit gambling in US airspace.

Source: Flight International