APEX: Thales says the aircraft is changing into a digital platform

Dominique Giannoni, CEO Thales InFlyt Experience
Dominique Giannoni, CEO Thales InFlyt Experience

Speaking at the Apex Expo, Dominique Giannoni, CEO Thales InFlyt Experience, said: “We are on the brink of a new era for inflight entertainment and inflight connectivity.”

“We are ready to support the passengers’ needs and the airlines’ expectations, with a more rewarding and more personalised experience when they fly.

“We are all immersed in a new digital world and it is our duty to ensure that there is no gap between before, during and after flight.”

“We are changing the aircraft to a digital platform, collecting untapped information from passengers to better allow the airline to tailor their flight experience better. Passengers carry a lot of information and we can work with content providers to curate their content for passengers.”

“By shifting the weight more onto the digital world on the ground side we are better placed to give customers a better experience from where the IFE is isolated. Both the ground side and the aircraft side can both reach out to the passenger,” Giannoni said.

Thales connected aircraft graphicFred Schreiner, Thales CTO, said: “What we are predicting is a non-linear take rate on connected services as technology moves forward.

“But not only are you connected at your seat, but the aircraft is connected for weather and other operational services too.”

“The ground network is what is going to drive the Petabyte computing power needed to make your flight more pleasurable and for operations to be more efficient.

“It is extremely powerful, but it requires a secure ecosystem, plus great control over personal data and its use,” Schreiner said.

He said Thales has been called a ‘digital factory’ and this offers the company a transformation path towards more cloud computing and big data.

Thales Acquisitions

Giannoni said Thales has made acquisitions to bring reality to the changes that will occur over the next five years.

Thales FlytLIVE with the new SES satellite.
Thales FlytLIVE with the new SES satellite.

“It won’t be very long before you see the full capability of streaming and have a travel experience that is far more enjoyable,” he said.

Giannoni said that the fact Thales uses an Android platform makes it easier for them to work with partners and other third parties.

“We continue our investment in connectivity. Last year we announced a partnership with SES, and we continue our partnership with Inmarsat,” Giannoni said.

In March 2017, Thales, SES, and Hughes Network Systems announced a set of strategic agreements to enhance the delivery of FlytLIVE, Thales’ inflight connectivity solution.

Under the agreements, SES has contracted capacity on Hughes EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX high throughput (HTS) Ka-band satellites to complement its AMC-15 and AMC-16 network, giving FlytLIVE the only redundant coverage network in North America.

SES will also use multiple JUPITER System gateways from Hughes to qualify Thales to deploy its FlytLIVE service on Hughes JUPITER Aeronautical platform.

Giannoni said the JUPITER development work was going well.

“We are well advanced on the two-axis mechanically-steered antenna qualification and it will be flying on test flights soon – we hope to have it flying commercially in 2018,” he concluded.

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