Thales is advancing its strategy to grow its customer base in the regional jet and narrowbody sector with the introduction of an all-digital TopSeries in-flight entertainment (IFE) system that dispenses with the seat box.

The new TopSeries product can be configured by class of service as an interactive audio-only system, interactive overhead video system, or a full functioning in-seat audio/video on demand (AVOD) system with a high-speed broadband network and personal widescreen displays.

It leverages proven TopSeries technologies currently flying on world airlines today "and standardises equipment across an entire fleet", says Thales.

The first installation, on an Airbus A320 operated by an undisclosed "leading Middle East carrier" is scheduled for 2009.

"Our goal for this system is to offer a cost-effective, flexible system that airlines could select for their smaller aircraft," says Alan Pellegrini, vice-president and general manager of Thales' IFE business.

In July Thales announced that Star Aviation - which is being established by Dubai-based ETA Star Group - will equip its new Embraer 170 aircraft with a TopSeries AVOD system that eliminates the seat box. This ensures that the system fits on regional jets without the sacrifice of leg room.

Star will be the third airline flying Embraer aircraft with the Thales IFE system, and the first airline flying Thales' IFE system on Embraer aircraft in India. Delivery of the E-170s will begin in March 2009.

Interested in IFE? Follow Mary Kirby's Runway Girl blog for all the latest IFE developments ...

Source: Flight International