APEX: JetBlue’s A220s will be equipped with AVANT IFE from Thales

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US based low cost carrier JetBlue has plumped for Thales’ AVANT inflight entertainment solution for its forthcoming fleet of A220s. Deliveries of the A220 will begin next year, with a total of 70 on order from the carrier.

JetBlue A220
JetBlue has picked Thales for IFE on the A220. Photo: JetBlue

At a time when carriers all over the world are switching to a BYOD model, ripping out seatback screens and leaving us with nothing by a tablet or smartphone holder, it’s amazingly refreshing when one doubles down on its commitment to providing IFE on every single flight.

JetBlue has been disrupting the low cost industry since 2000, when it became the first airline to offer live TV at every seat, in every plane. Back then, it was Thales who helped make this live TV dream a reality for JetBlue’s A320 fleet, and right now they run the IFE system on 253 of JetBlue’s aircraft. It’s no great surprise, then, that they’ve been picked to take care of business for the A220 also.

The Thales solution

Thales’ AVANT system is an Android-based solution, complete with high capacity servers and content stored locally. It integrates with the onboard connectivity system to give customers a flexible and high performance product.

Thales AVANT
The Thales AVANT system. Photo: Thales

Every seat on the A220 will have a 10” high definition screen. These will come with picture-in-picture functionality, as well as connected applications, audio and video on demand and personal device pairing. The system will also include USB and AC power for charging customer devices.

Philippe Carette, Chief Executive Officer, Thales InFlyt Experience commented on the deal in a press release, saying,

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“JetBlue has relied on Thales to be their inflight entertainment business partner for almost 20 years, and we are proud to continue building on this partnership with the airline’s first A220 fleet; This award further demonstrates Thales’s commitment in supporting JetBlue’s ambitions to provide their passengers a superior air travel experience.”

Thales are working with JetBlue and Airbus to deliver AVANT at the A220 production facility in Mobile, Alabama. Simple Flying estimate the first aircraft to start delivering from this facility in Q3, 2020, with Delta first in line to receive an aircraft. Hopefully, JetBlue will be soon after this.

Keeping up with the Joneses

JetBlue aren’t the only carrier looking to keep up appearances on its A220 fleet. Delta and Air Canada have also committed to installing seatback screens in every seat, largely on a par with the 10” size of JetBlue’s selection.

All three carriers will also provide inflight connectivity to their passengers. For Air Canada and Delta, the provider of choice is Gogo’s 2Ku service, while JetBlue picked services from Viasat.

JetBlue has selected Viasat to connect its forthcoming fleet of A220 aircraft. Photo Viasat

The notion that JetBlue wants to offer its customers more frills on board is not entirely in line with the opinion of its founder. In an interview with Runway Girl Network, David Neeleman stated he was disinterested in the notion of providing seatback entertainment for his new venture, codenamed Moxy.

With JetBlue planning transatlantic flights in the coming years, having a consistent product across its larger and smaller aircraft will come as a boon, as will the significant connectivity offered across its fleet.

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