Emma Kelly/LONDON

In-flight entertainment (IFE) hardware suppliers are experiencing a mini order bonanza, with Varig, Alitalia and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) signing for interactive IFE systems.

Varig will install Delta Beta In-Flight's Self-Contained In-Seat Entertainment (SCISE) system in the first class cabin of 13 Boeing MD-11s, says Henry DeBey, president of the Palo Alto, California-based manufacturer. The selection by Varig marks the first commercial airline order for the audio- and video-on-demand (A/VOD) system, which is already flying on corporate aircraft.

"It's been very tough getting our first airline customer. We don't have the infrastructure that the other [IFE] manufacturers have," he says. Installations will start late this year offering passengers around 20h of audio entertainment and 10 films.

Delta Beta has a novel approach to A/VOD - a capability IFE manufacturers have striven to field reliably for years - using video transmission optimisation (VTO) technology, which is aimed at simplifying data transmission, cutting the size and weight of hardware. Delta Beta is in talks with a "major US carrier" on the system.

Meanwhile, Rockwell Collins will equip SAS' new Airbus A330-300s and A340-300s with its Total Entertainment System (TES) from July. TES will be installed in all passenger cabins of six A340s and four A330s, with options to equip a further seven aircraft.

The aircraft will not initially offer A/VOD, but will be provisioned for the option and e-mail service. Rockwell has yet to field A/VOD on TES, with an airline trial of the capability due soon.

A/VOD functionality was a major factor in Alitalia's decision to equip its new Boeing 747-400s with Sextant In-Flight Systems' mSeries. Sextant will line-fit five 747-400s with the interactive in-seat video systems in economy class and Magnifica Class, the latter to feature A/VOD and economy class to be provisioned for later upgrade.

The agreement includes options on a further three aircraft.

Source: Flight International