Emma Kelly/LONDON

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) is to decide before the end of this month on the interactive in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for its new Airbus A330-300s and A340-300s.

IFE manager Hermine Wachmeister says SAS has completed its evaluations of the final two candidates - Matsushita's new System 3000 and Rockwell Collins Passenger Systems' Total Entertainment System (TES).

The System 3000, selected by Virgin Atlantic Airways for its new A340-600s and for retrofit on its A340-300s and Boeing 747s, is the IFE hardware manufacturer's follow-on to its System 2000E. Matsushita says the System 3000 will offer faster full cabin audio- and video-on-demand (A/VOD) than its predecessor and improved access to PC games, electronic books and CD-ROM programmes.

Rockwell's TES, meanwhile, is flying with nine carriers, including Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Japan Air Lines and Thai Airways International, with A/VOD functionality to be added this year.

The selected system will be installed in all classes on the four A330-300s and six A340-300s, plus seven options, recently ordered by SAS, with deliveries set for between 2001 and 2004.

The airline has been evaluating interactive IFE systems since the mid-1990s. In 1996/7 it selected Matsushita's System 2000E to evaluate on a single Boeing 767-300ER before a fleetwide equipment decision, but the trial was cancelled when the airline decided to reconsider its long-term fleet plan.

The carrier initially wants to offer passengers 12 video channels and 16 audio channels, with limited interactive functions such as games, on the new Airbus fleet. "We are interested in the long term in A/VOD, but not at the start," says Wachmeister, adding that some airlines are struggling with A/VOD. SAS is keen on Internet/ intranet and e-mail services for the new system, says Wachmeister.

SAS is also studying IFE systems for its recently ordered Airbus A321s. The airline plans to offer overhead video programming on the 12 ordered aircraft, plus 10 options, due for delivery from the fourth quarter of next year.

Source: Flight International