Qatar Airways is upgrading the in-flight entertainment systems on its fleet of Boeing 787-8s, such as the one pictured here. (Thales)
Qatar Airways is upgrading the cabin in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems across its fleet of in-service Boeing 787-8s.
The upgrade will feature the installation of the Thales AVANT IFE system in the Middle Eastern carrier’s 787-8 cabins, according to a Feb. 2 press release published by the French avionics manufacturer. As part of the upgrade, a key focus for Qatar was to minimize fleet downtime during the retrofit installation process.
"To achieve this ambition, Thales has developed an upgrade program to adapt the existing legacy system to incorporate new AVANT screens and servers into the existing seats and aircraft infrastructure," Thales said in the release.
Under the upgrade, Thales will install 17-inch HD touchscreens in the business class section of Qatar's 787-8 fleet, and 12-inch smart displays in the main cabin. According to Thales, the latest generation of their AVANT IFE system is "two to three times brighter than the former technology, featuring more than 16 million colors for a brilliant viewing experience.”
AVANT IFE upgrades are being added to a total of 30 Boeing 787-8s operated by Qatar.
A view of the interior cabin configuration for a Qatar Airways 787, as provided through the airline's Google street view integration. (Qatar Airways)
"With the latest in-flight technology, including lightweight screens, greater content storage, and full HD touch screens, we are delighted to work with Thales in bringing the most advanced AVANT IFE system onboard our Boeing 787-8 fleet," Qatar Airways Senior Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Ms. Salam Al Shawa said in a statement.
The 787-8 IFE upgrade for Qatar comes as the airline continues to resume flying to more destinations in North and South America, expand its air cargo operations, and adopt new COVID-19 related testing and digital communications technologies. On Jan. 29 for example, Qatar started operating flights directly from Doha to Seattle four times a week using its 777s.
A week prior to the launch of the new Seattle route, Qatar announced it will resume flights to Atlanta in June, with plans to start increasing the number of flights per week it operates to Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston in March. Also starting in March, the airline will trial the use of the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) digital passport mobile application, on flights between Doha and Istanbul.
In September, Qatar made the “Super Wi-Fi” featured on its 787 and A350 fleet available for free to passengers for 100 days, noting that 100 of their aircraft have been equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation in-flight connectivity service.
Thales said that despite the impact of COVID-19 on passenger air travel demand for Qatar, the airline "remained unwavering in its commitment to upgrade the current fleet."
“Qatar Airways continues to be a leader in the recovery of the aviation industry, maintaining a paramount commitment to service and to the enrichment of the passenger journey," Philippe Carette, Chief Executive Officer, Thales Inflyt Experience, said in the release. "Together we have developed a turnkey upgrade program with a seamless customer experience and continued installation despite the crisis."