Thales is building upon its open-Android entertainment platform, Avant InFlyt Experience, with InFlyt 360. Image: Maxim Sergienko

APEX Insight: InFlyt 360 represents Thales’ vision for its passenger engagement platform, delivered through its open-Android in-flight entertainment platform, Avant InFlyt Experience. Airlines will be able to engage passengers with apps that are integrated with the seatback system, adding an element of surprise to the passenger experience.

Thales is building upon its open-Android entertainment platform, Avant InFlyt Experience, with InFlyt 360, its vision for how airlines can track passengers’ needs and wants, and reach out to them before, during and after a flight, increasing airline-passenger interactions.

“This is a way for airlines to surprise their passengers and engage them,” said Dominique Giannoni, CEO of Thales InFlyt Experience. “As a human being, you are engaged when you are surprised. But if you travel on the same airline for many years and you see the same user interface, there is no ‘wow’ factor.”

“This is a way for airlines to surprise their passengers and engage them.” — Dominique Giannoni, Thales

Thales is enhancing the “wow” factor by providing airlines with a library of apps that are seamlessly integrated into the seatback system. Android app creators are provided with a software development kit (SDK), and after the apps are delivered, Thales will ensure that each app meets its operational and security standards. Airlines can then download and install the apps directly, reflecting the process found in the consumer app market. But the key is the user interface, explained Giannoni.

Recognizing its airline customers’ requests to quickly and easily update the in-flight entertainment user interface, in 2016, Thales created User Experience (UX) Center of Excellence, a facility for improving the UX of IFE platforms in Irvine, California.

“It’s bringing together – in one group – experts in design, engineering, ergonomics and cognitive sciences to engage with airlines at an early stage of their processes, in order to capture their needs, their brand and their vision of passenger experience,” said Giannoni.

“It’s bringing together – in one group – experts in design, engineering, ergonomics and cognitive sciences.” — Dominique Giannoni, Thales

Over 70 apps are now flying, with hundreds available in the library. “The most popular apps are games, but one of our airline customers in the Middle East worked with a partner to develop a duty-free shopping app. It was integrated into our platform without a long, cumbersome process,” said Gianonni.

On the connectivity side of the equation, Thales is expanding its space segment through its relationship with SES. In the near term, four of SES’ Ka-band satellites will be added to Thales’ aero-connect bandwidth. Then, in 2020, Thales will be the anchor customer on SES-17, a fully digital, high-throughput Ka-band satellite that will provide coverage over the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean.

At AIX 2017, Thales and SES announced that SES-17 will utilize a Digital Transparent Processor (DTP), adding advanced bandwidth management capabilities to the new satellite.

Howard has been passionate about aviation since he was a little kid, and is a pilot who loves to fly gliders and just about anything else with wings. He's a frequent contributor to aviation magazines and blogs.