In-flight entertainment and connectivity provider Thales signed a joint venture deal with China Electronics Technology Avionics during the show yesterday, supporting the provision of IFE on the Chinese manufacturer Comac's C919 aircraft and beyond.

Operations are expected to begin by the third quarter of 2012, pending final approval by the relevant authorities. "One of the markets that has been particularly strong for us is China," says managing director of Thales in-flight entertainment business Alan Pellegrini. "It is very important to establish strong industrial bases where we have strong market bases."

The partnership supports the integration of the Thales TopSeries system in the cabin of the C919. The 156-to 190-seat narrowbody is set for its first flight in 2014 with deliveries following in 2016.

While the joint venture takes the C919 as the first initiative, and sells the IFEC systems and equipment to COMAC and other Chinese OEMs, the joint venture will provide products and system integration in support of Thales IFEC business on other aircraft types.

CETCA general manager Zeng Li says: "The C919 program is just the start. China's civil aviation industry is under fast development and the partnership with Thales has great potential."

The partners point to forecast deliveries of more than 4,300 aircraft, of which 71% are narrowbodies, to the Chinese market over the next 20 years, and say the joint venture is in a position to use and evolve technologies for the single-aisle and regional markets.

Source: Flight Daily News