Widebody and narrowbody internet/e-mail systems ordered despite downturn

Matsushita Avionics Systems (MAS) has secured launch customers for its new System 3000i (internet) in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for widebody aircraft and the eFX system, which is geared towards narrowbodies. The orders come despite IFE hardware manufacturers, including MAS, feeling the effects of the post-11 September downturn as airlines defer aircraft deliveries and cancel aircraft orders.

The System 3000i, which was launched at the World Airline Entertainment Association show in September, is designed to support in-flight connectivity services (Flight International 18-24 September). MAS has two customers signed up for the 3000i, but declines to reveal their identity. One airline has placed 25 firm orders for the system and 12 options, while the second has 15 orders and options, Flight International understands.

The interactive System 3000i will offer the same functionality as its predecessor, the System 3000, including full audio- and video-on-demand (A/VOD). But it will also include integrated e-mail and internet connectivity via an ethernet connection between a passenger's laptop and the system head end. That will provide access to existing e-mail services provided by Tenzing Communications and future broadband services under development. The system remains on track for availability from late 2002/early 2003, says MAS.

Meanwhile, International Lease Finance (ILFC) has become the launch customer for the eFX system, selecting MAS as its baseline IFE supplier for its Airbus A318s, A319s, A320s and A321s and as an option on Next Generation Boeing 737s. The new eFX is included as part of the deal. The digital eFX system will offer advanced IFE capability for the narrowbody market, including A/VOD, internet/e-mail connectivity and the manufacturer's recently launched interactive iXplor moving map system. EFX will be available for delivery from the first quarter of 2003.

The orders come as a welcome boost to MAS. The manufacturer says that since the terrorist attacks in the USA "some IFE orders have been delayed and a few have been cancelled, but the large majority of orders remain solid".

Source: Flight International