The next generation of in-flight entertainment systems is ready to fly from Thales. The company launched the AVANT Up line this week, with upgraded screens, in-seat power, and services options for airlines.
Our airline customers and their passengers always expect more from their inflight entertainment systems, and Thales is delivering on these expectations, and more. AVANT Up, Pulse and our Digital solutions demonstrate our unwavering commitment to invest in innovation that creates value for airlines.– Cedric Rhoads, Vice President, Product Policy, Thales InFlyt Experience
The new systems are on track for certification by the end of 2021, with a confirmed new-install customer scheduled to activate in 2023. Retrofit projects could see the new hardware flying sooner.
Introducing Optiq – 4K QLED HDR Displays
A cornerstone component of the upgraded platform is the introduction of new 4K HDR screens for embedded in-seat entertainment. Developed in partnership with HARMAN, a Samsung Company, Optiq by Thales is the industry’s first line of intelligent 4K high dynamic range (HDR) displays enhanced with Samsung QLED proprietary technology.
Availability of 4K and HDR content is limited today. But the IFE vendors must generally keep pace with screen developments on the ground, owing to manufacturing efficiencies and cost benefits. Thales anticipates a lower acquisition cost, 30% weight reduction, 50% increase in reliability, and improved durability and serviceability.
The Qptiq platform also includes an unprecedented level of connectivity on the screen system. Passengers will be able to connect two different Bluetooth devices, a highly sought feature from passengers and one that many IFE vendors are working to deliver.
The company also touts “built-in Wi-Fi” on the screens though it does not have a specific use case envisioned, at least on the initial installs. Jerry Thomas, Thales Avionics’ Director for Strategic Marketing suggests multiple options for the WiFi system on the screens, including:
- Wireless only connection from head-end to displays
- An additional redundancy path from the head-end in a wired configuration
- Direct connection to passenger PEDs.
Pulse power play
The Pulse power delivery system also represents a significant improvement in the AVANT Up platform. The modular platform delivers a flexible collection of USB-A, USB-C and wireless charging to seats.
Pulse can deliver up to 350W per unit (i.e. block of seats), including USB-C outlets delivering 60W to support laptop charging. As demand on the unit grows the system can balance the distribution to ensure that all passengers get a charge rather than the tradition first come, first served model.
And, similar to the new Optiq screens, the Pulse power system is lighter, smaller, and more efficient than prior iterations. Thales claims a 30% weight reduction, among other benefits.
Thales also continues to talk up the INFLYT360 digital platform to manage content, advertising, and on-board e-commerce solutions. The company also suggests that the digital portfolio can help airline customers restore passenger confidence in air travel in a post-pandemic world.
This includes technologies such as touchless remote control, allowing passengers to control the inflight entertainment system with their mobile phones for a full IFE experience.
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