Thales Wins $350M Avant Up IFE Contract To Equip Emirates A350s

Airbus will start delivering Emirates’ 50 A350s in 2024.
Credit: Emirates

LYON—Thales is finding customers that are taking up more technology features of its Avant Up inflight entertainment (IFE) system, the latest being Emirates which has ordered the equipment for its incoming fleet of Airbus A350s.

For Thales, the contract is an encouraging sign of market recovery. More broadly, Emirates’ choice is further evidence of the industry’s redoubled effort to use power more efficiently in everything from engines to onboard appliances.

Emirates, which says it is investing more than $350 million in the equipment, will be the first carrier to use Avant Up’s Pulse, a power system integrated into the IFE unit for personal electronic devices that allocates energy in a more efficient way.

Typically, if a laptop computer has a maximum charging capacity of 70W, a conventional IFE charging system will supply 70W. The laptop may actually need only 30W, if it is close to charged. In that instance, the device’s battery management system will convert the rest into heat, thus wasting energy.

Moreover, if the IFE system’s hardware has a maximum charging capacity of 70W and comprises two sockets, the second one will be deprived of power.

Thales’ Pulse charges devices according to their actual needs, such as 30W in the example outlined. The second socket will therefore be effectively available.

As a result, charging performance will be unaffected, no matter how many users are charging their devices at the same time, says Yannick Assouad, EVP of Thales Avionics. Emirates will offer two USB sockets, a 10W USB-A and a 60W USB-C, thus also becoming Avant Up’s first customer to install more than one USB socket per passenger.

In addition, the carrier will be first to take up the option of having two simultaneous Bluetooth connections per passenger. They will be able to pair devices, such as a pair of headphones and a gaming controller. A phone or tablet may also be used as a remote control for the IFE system using Bluetooth.

Avant Up’s display features a 4K QLED HDR screen, where Samsung’s latest QLED technology was chosen over OLED, notably because of its higher reliability, Thales Inflyt Experience CEO TK Kallenbach said at Avant Up’s introduction event in June. Called Optiq, the display offers one billion colors.

Emirates’ 50 A350s will start being delivered in 2024. Every seat in economy, premium economy and business class will be equipped with the same technology and 13-in. display. First-class passengers will benefit from 20-in. displays.

Emirates is the third customer for Avant Up. “The market is back,” says Assouad. “And Emirates is a trend setter.”

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.