Airbus has opted to make Panasonic Avionics' in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solutions line-fit offerable on the A350 XWB, in a move that shows a willingness on the part of Panasonic to meet the European airframer's architectural requirements for the widebody twinjet and an easing of tensions between the two firms.
The contract, signed on 4 February at Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse, means that A350 customers will be able to select from Panasonic's cadre of IFEC solutions, including full-cabin audio/video on demand (AVOD) and the firm's global communications suite comprising its Ku-band satellite-based high-speed Internet offering eXConnect, Airborne Television Network, and eXPhone mobile phone service, which is offered via a partnership with Telenor subsidiary AeroMobile.
The IFEC equipment will be installed on A350 XWB flight test aircraft MSN002, says Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis.
Airbus last year came under fire for not giving line-fit offerability status to any mobile connectivity provider other than OnAir, its joint venture with SITA, despite a long-standing request from Panasonic.
At that time, the airframer stressed that integration with its so-called ALNA v2 communications architecture is a prerequisite for offerability on Airbus long range aircraft, and that no other service provider had yet met its requirements. ALNA v2 is a multi-programme, scalable and modular platform that enables Internet and On Board Mobile Telephony System (OMTS) services.
Confirming that its IFEC offerings are now line-fit offerable on the A350, and signalling its intent to comply with Airbus' wishes, Panasonic says it "does have to meet the architectural requirements" of the aircraft.
The IFEC giant says it is still "working with the other non-A350 platforms for offerability with Airbus".
In a carefully worded statement today, OnAir CEO Benoit Debains points out that OnAir is the only service provider to comply with the ALNA v2 platform "as of today".
He notes that OnAir's services "can be integrated with all possible in-flight entertainment and communication systems" and that 40% of A350 customers "have already chosen OnAir's connectivity solutions".
As such, it is understood that Panasonic and OnAir will likely find themselves working together in instances where A350 customers want to mix and match their IFEC solutions. OnAir presently works closely with IFEC manufacturer - and Panasonic rival - Thales.