Zodiac's SiT business has entered talks with Boeing in hopes of gaining linefit offerability for its seat-centric in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on the 787, as major customer Royal Jordanian considers IFE options for its on-order twinjets.

The news comes as Zodiac has established SiT as a separate branch from its Sicma Aero Seat unit, and begins operating the IFE business as part of its larger cabin interiors segment, which includes Weber, Sicma and Monogram Systems.

"The SiT company is dedicated to the IFE business, with the aim to be installed on all seats, from the Zodiac Group of course, but also on Sicma and Weber's competitors, such as Recaro, B/E Aerospace, etc," said SiT director Eric Cornilleau in an interview with ATI and Flightglobal.

"In terms of management, strategy and business operation and everything concerning our business strategy, there is no more connection with Sicma," he added, noting that "our final organisation chart is under progress, but a president will head up the branch". SiT currently has 20 employees, but plans to begin a hiring push as it grows.

Having been launched via retrofit on a Royal Jordanian Airbus A340, the SiT seat-centric IFE system - embedded into Sicma seats in economy class and EADS Sogerma seats in business class - is now flying on four Royal Jordanian aircraft, and was recently granted linefit status by Airbus on the A330 and A340.

Royal Jordanian is also studying bringing the offering to its Airbus A320 single-aisle fleet, revealed Cornilleau, "and we are pushing to be [linefit] on the 787 because [the airline] has orders for the aircraft.

"Our objective now is to promote SiT to Boeing and especially the 787. Boeing is thinking about introducing a new player [in IFE] for the 787. We hope to be able to engage with this process in a few months."

He added: "We have regular meetings with Boeing."

To date, only two manufacturers - Panasonic Avionics and Thales - have secured linefit status for their IFE on the 787.

Flightglobal's ACAS database indicates that Royal Jordanian has ordered 11 787s. The carrier also operates a fleet of A319s, A320s and A321s among other types.

SiT, meanwhile, is touting the reliability of its seat-centric IFE platform. While the four Royal Jordanian aircraft have encountered "very minor problems" in the launch phase, the overall results have been "very positive", said Cornilleau.

"We have a hard drive disk in each TV screen and this is able to share its content with four TV screens. When you have a hard drive disk failure, it will be identified by the crew control panel, and the order will be given where the failure is occurring and it will automatically look at the neighbour's screen and thanks to the optical fibre network between the screens it will be available on the screen for the passenger. It's automatic, and we do not need any action by the crew member," said Cornilleau.

He said SiT has observed no more than three or four screen reboots per flight in a cabin of 250 units.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news