Airbus to bolster IFE options for widebody customers

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In a bid to provide a wider selection of IFE to its widebody customers Airbus is expected to formally add Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ RAVE solution to its A330 catalogue this year. Additionally, following a protracted competition, sources say the Zodiac unit – known as Zii – is in line to be named the third supplier of IFE on the A350 XWB.

Zii’s RAVE seat-centric IFE is already being rolled out on various airlines including Lufthansa and SAS via post-delivery retrofit modification. “We are an approved supplier [on theA330] for Airbus now, as well as conditionally offerable for installations 3Q 2015. Our first customer (SAS) aircraft should deliver in summer of 2015, and we should then be “officially” in the Airbus catalogue,” says Zii VP sales and marketing Harry Gray.

He flatly declined to discuss anything in relation to A350 catalogue inclusion, noting, “Other OEM offerability efforts are underway, however I am unable to disclose further information at this time.”

Indeed, the entire A350 project has been cloaked in mystery. Airbus – which put out a call for tender for “light” A350 IFE proposals years ago – insisted in December that the selection process was still ongoing. And Airbus spokesman Martin Fendt added, “Confidentiality of the process unfortunately does not allow us to communicate yet on the subject.”

But multiple sources tell RGN that Zii has surmounted the initial hurdles, and has entered joint development phase with Airbus. Receiving final approval would be a coup for Zii, as the A350 catalogue offers only two IFE choices – next generation systems from IFE heavyweights Panasonic Avionics and Thales.

Lumexis is also understood to have bid for A350 linefit offerability, though the company declined to comment.

On the other side of the pond, however, Lumexis is now tantalizingly close to receiving full linefit offerability for its fiber-to-the-screen (FTTS) IFE system on the Boeing 737, a type operated by Lumexis’ customers flydubai and Lion Air units.

One thing is clear – airframers are no longer interested in simply featuring two seat-back IFE options in their catalogues. Viva la competition.

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