Qatar Airways will introduce onboard live television next year after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to become Rockwell Collins' launch customer for the Tailwind 560 satellite broadcast service.
Rockwell Collins senior director airshow systems Tim Rayl provided details of the new onboard live television service for airlines at last week's World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) annual conference and exhibition in Seattle.
The new system is derived from the Tailwind 550 - Rockwell's live broadcast system that has been operational in several large aircraft in the VIP sector for 18 months.
Tailwind 560, which has been developed for integration with commercial airline inflight entertainment systems, currently offers 32 channels of live broadcast across a number of regions.
"We can make the system work wherever a DBS [direct broadcast satellite] service is available," says Rayl.
Commercial airline use of onboard live television services has so far been limited to the US domestic market. Now the scope has expanded, Rockwell says it is seeing strong interest from European and Middle East airlines.
Rockwell says it has an MoU with one Middle East carrier, Qatar Airways. The MoU envisages Qatar equipping 35 aircraft - a mix of existing and on-order Airbus A330-200/300s and A340-600s - with the new system. Rockwell product manager, space-based delivered products, Christopher Merry says the airline is set to go live with the service "in the first half of 2005". Delivery of Qatar's first Airbus line-fit installation of the service will follow in 2006.
* Air New Zealand (ANZ) is to be launch customer of Rockwell Collins' new upgraded moving-map systems, with the installation of the new Airshow 4200 system on 15 of its Boeing aircraft.
ANZ will outfit eight new Boeing 777-200s and seven existing Boeing 747-400s with the Airshow 4200 - one of two new upgraded moving-map products launched by Rockwell. Installations are set to begin next year.
GRAHAM DUNN / SEATTLE
Source: Flight International