Thales is flagging FlytEdge, which it terms as “the first cloud-based in-flight entertainment system”, as its new addition to its portfolio at this year’s AIX.

It builds on last year’s AIX launch of the Avant Up 4k HD system, which will be flying in the summer of 2024 having been selected by airlines including Emirates, Air India, Ethiopian Airlines and American Airlines. 


Source: BillyPix

Thales Inflyt Experience chief executive TK Kallenbach (left) and executive vice-president avionics, Yannick Assouad

TK Kallenbach, chief executive of Thales Inflyte Experience, introduced FlytEdge as the next generation of IFE and a system that has been designed from the ground up. “It’s not a continuation of an existing set of systems. It’s brand new, state-of-the-art and natively digital. This is a unique opportunity for us to completely remap how IFE is provided to the client,” he says.

“The system actually uses our Crystal Cabin Award winner from last year in the onboard data centre, which itself is a new architecture for hardware, giving you a ton of storage on the aircraft. I liken it to the creation of iPhone hardware. And what we’re rolling out with FlytEdge are all the apps. 

“It’s a connected system. Basically, if it’s built for the web, it runs on FlytEdge. Moreover, it’s actually flying. It is in operation on narrowbody aircraft in the US under an STC,” Kallenbach reports. 

The move into the cloud opens up access to IFE content for passengers using personal devices. While the onboard data centre will hold a sizeable amount of content, should a passenger want to use an app or watch a film which is not on board, they will be able to access the item through a streaming service such as Hulu or Netflix. FlytEdge will then be able to fulfil the request via satcom.

At this point the new system will keep a cached copy in case another passenger seeks it. This means there will be no cost for another satcom download. This can be kept by the airline for a certain amount of time for further use, but if the selection is unused after, say, a month, it can be deleted. 

Conversely, airlines can benefit from FlytEdge by observing choices made by passengers of films or apps not on board, which go on to be used quite regularly. A decision can then be taken add the item to onboard data centres right across the fleet. This upload would most likely occur via wi-fi when an aircraft is at the gate, a cheaper option than via satcom. 

A further benefit to airlines, identified by Kallenbach, can come from the viewing of events such as concerts or theatre performances. These open the possibility for an ancillary revenue stream, offering tickets through the IFE to see an artist or a play at the destination