Thales AVANT Enters Service on Panda-Themed A350 XWB in China

Image via Airbus

APEX Insight: Thales is celebrating the first time its AVANT in-flight entertainment system has been deployed on an Airbus A350-XWB operating in China after Sichuan Airlines took delivery of an A350-900 on August 8.

The new Airbus A350-900 delivered to Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines on August 8 is the first aircraft of the type in China to be installed with Thales’ AVANT in-flight entertainment system.

“We support Sichuan Airlines’ ambitions to drive the highest level of passenger satisfaction as we work together to shape new opportunities to provide a truly unique experience to all travelers,” said Philippe Carette, the newly-appointed CEO of Thales InFlyt Experience.

AVANT will initially provide Sichuan Airlines passengers flying on domestic routes such as Chengdu–Beijing with a range of entertainment including recent feature films, television series, music and games. In the future, the carrier also plans to use the aircraft on international routes.

One of eight pandas featured on the aircraft’s livery is a visual representation of YouYou, a baby panda adopted by Sichuan Airlines from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. YouYou is the official ambassador of its Panda Route international flight development program launched by Sichuan Airlines in 2016 with the aim of enriching its domestic and international route network.

Furthermore, Sichuan Airlines has plans to carry out panda-themed flights, integrating more panda elements into its aircraft cabins and meal service to provide passengers from around the world with a cultural experience.

Equipped with the Airspace by Airbus cabin, the new A350-XWB is configured with 331 seats in total – 28 seats in business and 303 seats in economy class – and is one of three Sichuan Airlines has acquired on a long-term operating lease from AerCap. At this year’s Farnborough International Airshow, the carrier ordered a further 10 of the type directly from Airbus.

Thales is already Sichuan Airlines’ preferred business partner in avionics, providing the carrier with Flight Management Systems as well as customer support and innovative services for its A320 and A330 fleets.