In-flight entertainment (IFE) system supplier Matsushita will be ready to deliver its new interactive IFE hardware - the System 3000 - early next year.

The first phase of the fully interactive system designed for widebody aircraft will be available in the first quarter, with full system functionality in the following quarter, says Ted Neck, general manager marketing at the Irvine, California-based supplier. Matsushita, which manufactures the market-leading interactive System 2000E, is conducting software integration.

The new hardware will not replace the System 2000E, which has a 70% market share, with customers including Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Swissair, Emirates and Virgin. "It is designed as an enhancement to the System 2000E by exchanging the video tape players with audio- and video-on-demand [A/VOD] units, but retaining the System 2000E head-end line replaceable units," says Neck. He adds: "By mixing features and equipment from the System 3000, System 2000E customers can create individual hybrid systems that are tailored to their exact requirements."

Matsushita has an unidentified launch customer and "a substantial amount of interest from many airlines". Airlines have been preparing for the System 3000 for some time. Continental Airlines, for example, is believed to be provisioning new aircraft for delivery from next year for the hardware.

The System 3000 will offer faster full cabin A/VOD with fewer line replaceable units than its predecessor and "private data interactive", which will be a faster way for passengers to access new PC games, electronic books and CD-rom programmes, says Neck.

• Matsushita and avionics giant Honeywell hope to field the first joint services resulting from their alliance by year end. The partners have integrated the System 2000E with Honeywell's Total Aircraft Information System, with the focus on e-mail, internet/intranet and direct broadcast services.

Source: Flight International