Emma Kelly/LONDON

Sextant In-Flight Systems aims to have audio- and video-on-demand (A/VOD) equipment in revenue service with Japan Airlines (JAL) next month.

JAL is equipping seven Boeing 747-400s with Sextant's mSeries interactive in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The mSeries, previously called the Multi-media Digital Distribution System, was installed on the first of JAL's new 747-400s in March last year, but A/VOD has not been available. A/VOD is the system many airlines have targeted as the latest IFE capability which they must offer.

Sextant In-Flight Systems, based in Irvine, California, was formerly B/E Aerospace's IFE division. It had hoped to field A/VOD capability sooner. The manufacturer has moved away from its "big bang theory" - offering full system functionality all at once - to a phased strategy, according to Hank Evers, vice-president of sales and marketing.

Sextant's new proven functionality on delivery programme involves phased-in system enhancements based on the successful implementation of the previous module, says Evers.

The first phase of the JAL programme involved the mSeries offering basic audio and video functions, with phase two offering VOD for broadcast service only, progressing to the third phase of higher levels of functionality leading to full interactive services, including A/VOD, games and information services.

The VOD server in broadcast mode achieved 85.2% reliability in October last year, rising to 98.6% this January. The new VOD server being installed - the VOD Entertainment Server (VOD ES) - will result in "a dramatic improvement" in reliability, says Evers. The second-generation VOD server will eliminate the single point of failure, it weighs less, will provide increased speed of content loading and will be more robust than the first-generation server.

Sextant Avionique is offering the former B/E Aerospace (BEA) division "tremendous growth opportunities" following its purchase of a 51% stake in the company earlier this year, says Evers. "In the short term, we can see what Sextant can rapidly do for us, particularly in bringing us closer to Europe. Sextant is committed to expanding its products from the cockpit through to the passenger cabin," he says.

• JAL is expected soon to announce an order for Rockwell Collins Passenger Systems Total Entertainment System (TES). The airline selected the TES last October to retrofit up to 28 747-400s, but contract negotiations have been protracted.

Source: Flight International