Qatar Airways has signed an agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC) to be launch customer for Astrova, the cutting-edge IFE system revealed this week at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX). The deal will see the systems installed on Qatar Airways’ fleet of 40 Boeing 777X aircraft, deliveries of which may begin in 2025.
Astrova represents PAC’s new approach to the market, using IFE as a way to help airlines engage with their passengers. Qatar Airways’ B777-9 passengers will enjoy a cinema-grade 4K OLED with High Dynamic Range (HDR), with perfect blacks and vivid colour. The airline has opted for 22in screens in business class and 13.3in in economy.
PAC offers programmable LED lighting as an option for the Astrova monitors, which enables airlines to complement various phases of flight with animated sequences synchronised to improve the passenger experience and reduce eye strain. The video experience is complemented by high-fidelity audio, which will deliver high-definition sound over both traditional wired connections and PAC’s bluetooth technology.
Users can also seamlessly interface their personal devices to the IFE system to create an omnichannel, multiscreen, multi-purpose environment similar to many enjoy at home.
IFE systems are a big investment, and with lead times for aircraft delivery, many times in the past airlines have found that their display technology is outdated by the time it is installed, compared with consumer technology. The Astrova system is designed to stay at the forefront of both consumer trends and developments in IFE products and services throughout its lifetime. The key hardware and software components have been designed to evolve over time to address any changes in market requirements or passenger expectations.
For example, the removable peripheral bar means that passengers will always be able to fast charge their devices with USB power, even if new power requirements are introduced. The bar also means that passengers will be able to connect headphones or devices, even if Bluetooth technologies or standards change. The bar can be swapped over in minutes to keep the system up to date with the latest consumer devices.
PAC says that airlines will benefit from faster on-wing upgrades and maintenance, commonality in media loading, spares and repairs, and significant weight reductions compared to other seat-end architectures.
Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Using our IFE innovation, Qatar Airways can leverage the latest consumer innovations to deliver unique passenger experiences to drive higher Net Promotor Scores, enhance passenger engagement, increase revenue, and achieve even greater operational efficiencies through IFE. We are very honoured to launch this exciting new product and for Qatar to be the first to sign as the launch customer for the 777x aircraft type.”