Thales to prepare HNA Group aircraft for Ka-band connectivity

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

Thales is to equip the subsidiary airlines of HNA Group with its latest in-flight entertainment (IFE) system and prepare for Ka-band connectivity on its fleet of 42 wide-body A330 and 17 A350 XWB aircraft.

The first AVANT-equipped A330 aircraft entered service in late 2017 and the first AVANT A350 aircraft is expected in the third quarter of 2018.

Thales says the integration of Ka-band connectivity to the AVANT IFE system will provide a fully-connected premium passenger experience, although there is no mention of the inflight connectivity provider.

A Thales spokesperson said the aircraft are not yet going to be connected to a satellite service, but are being prepared for connection at a later date.

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.

But as this contract is for Asia the supplier is more likely to be Inmarsat and its GX Aviation service. More information will be provided once known.

HNA group manages several subsidiary airlines, including Hainan airlines, Capital Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Lucky Air and West Air.

In 2017, Hainan Airlines was honoured as Top 10 Airlines by SKYTRAX, a global research firm and provider of professional aviation evaluation services with a focus on airline and airport services.

The subsidiary airlines of HNA group already have a combined fleet of over 50 A330 aircraft flying with Thales IFE systems. Thales says HNA Group’s selection is a further demonstration of the carriers trust in its commitment to making the travel experience more enjoyable for their passengers.

As part of this commitment, Thales says it is investing resources in the region to further enhance the integration of software and media capabilities that will enrich passenger experience and satisfy local market demands.

Dominique Giannoni, CEO, Thales InFlyt Experience, said: “We are proud of our long-term successful relationship with HNA Group. The selection of Thales AVANT IFE and connectivity solutions is a testimony to our continued investment in the region.

“We look forward to partnering with HNA Group to develop innovative solutions that enrich the passenger experience.”

The new fleet will be equipped with Thales’ latest AVANT full high-definition monitors, featuring the Avii Touch Passenger Media Unit.

Avii provides intuitive navigation, full Android smartphone look and feel, and acts as a second entertainment screen.

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