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Do in-house solutions stifle competition?

We build the aircraft so why shouldn't we assume more control of its core communications architecture? Perhaps this is Airbus's view and why it believes that it is right to offer what some allege amounts to an in-house connectivity solution for airlines.

Airbus is partnered with SITA in joint venture OnAir. Panasonic Avionics and partner AeroMobile have been unable to convince Airbus to approve their request for line-fit offerable status for Arinc/Telenor's in-flight mobile connectivity service, which competes with OnAir. But the airframer is standing its ground, saying it has received no applications from competing providers that meet its architectural requirements, which it is trying to standardise.

The battle, which has been brewing for years, surfaces as connectivity takes on new importance after the Air France A330 accident, which has prompted Airbus to examine downlink of flight-critical data.

And a not dissimilar interest in standardisation is said to be prevalent at Boeing. Such measures streamline procurement. Airbus and Boeing also likely want suppliers to soak up more cost and the way to do that is to offer sole source status. Is this good for the industry? The answer is "perhaps". There is a reason why the airframers are doing it. The longer-term effect isn't yet understood. But the big question is - will the airlines accept it?

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