How Thales is Innovating in Line with Current IFEC Trends


Image via Thales

Thales InFlyt Experience CTO Tudy Bedou builds on the themes arising from the 2024 APEX TECH event to spotlight how Thales is incorporating the latest in-flight and connectivity (IFEC) technology into its solutions.

During APEX TECH, APEX Insights Editor Stephanie Taylor chatted with Thales InFlyt Experience CTO Tudy Bedou, who believes “people want to have a memorable and immersive experience on their flight,” and explained how Thales is committed to providing cutting-edge IFE solutions that meet this desire.

Bedou reiterated that Thales’ AVANT Up solution features Optiq 4K QLED HDR displays with more than one billion vibrant colors, explaining that unlike OLED screens, the QLED technology will not dull or fade over time and is better in the dynamic lighting condition of the aircraft cabin. He also confirmed that Thales is now developing a range of larger Optiq screen sizes than initially announced for a major airline.

Each AVANT Up screen is designed with USB-A and USB-C charging ports, allowing passengers to fast-charge their devices during flight. They can also pair up to three devices wirelessly to the display. Behind the power ports is Thales’ award-winning Pulse power management system, which gives each passenger high-speed charging of up to 140 watts for their personal devices.

AVANT Up features many digital services, such as personalization with curated recommendations. Bedou commented that Thales is always evaluating new technologies to further enhance the passenger journey.

2024 is set to be an exciting year for Thales, with its Crystal Cabin Award-winning Pulse in-seat power solution and 4K HDR QLED Optiq monitor both set to take to the skies as part of the AVANT Up in-flight entertainment system.

The company has announced multiple orders for its AVANT Up IFE solution. Since announcing that American Airlines would become the launch customer for the product, Emirates has also selected AVANT Up and will be the launch customer for Pulse. Most recently, Thales confirmed that AVANT Up will be featured on Air India’s fleets.

“Integrating with passengers’ smartphones in a more intelligent way, including mirroring and casting, has become increasingly important.”

Tudy Bedou, Thales InFlyt Experience

When it comes to content, Bedou’s vision is to cater more specifically to passenger by geographic regions and demographics by bringing new ways to entertain onboard while improving the way traditional content is delivered. He stated, “We are looking at an interesting concept for a new content type to be brought on the aircraft in a very smart way.” In addition, Thales has increased the processing power in its screens to be able to be able to deliver advanced gaming, 3D assets and full 4K user interfaces for a completely elevated solution.

“Passengers expect to have the same multi-screen at-home experience in the air.” Bedou added, “Integrating with passengers’ smartphones in a more intelligent way, including mirroring and casting, has become increasingly important.” In response, Thales is introducing a new casting technology that will start flying next year, allowing passengers to project their content on the IFE screen.

Bedou’s desire for things to be “fully integrated” also encompasses connectivity: “We want to make sure that we’ve designed the best IFE that can easily integrate with connectivity to provide a seamless connected IFE experience. Being connectivity agnostic is key for us, which is why we’re always multiplying our partnerships.”

He continued, “connectivity is key to unlocking the full power of the new, industry-leading Thales digital services, so we see a fast and reliable connectivity as ‘must have’ for the future of IFE.”

Looking forward, Bedou is particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities presented by its Onboard Data Center (ODC), winner of a Crystal Cabin Award in 2023, which brings the power of the cloud to the aircraft. He explained, “It’s a very different hardware and software architecture as compared to traditional IFE servers. In developing the ODC, we took inspiration from how Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and others designed their data centers for the cloud.”

“Bringing the cloud onboard enables us to bring the latest consumer technologies, such as streaming content, personalization and eCommerce, to passengers.” The ODC is currently flying, and Bedou was tight-lipped on the details, but confirmed that Thales is already working on imbuing it with more advanced capabilities.

Bedou concluded by saying Thales has several exciting new announcements coming this year regarding advancements in accessibility, the integration of A.I., and further work in sustainability.