American Airlines to Equip A321XLR, 787-9 Fleet with 4K In-flight Entertainment Displays

This is a computer-generated rendering of the American Airlines A321XLR aircraft that will feature the new Optiq 4K IFE screens from Thales. The new seatback IFE screens are expected to make their debut on passenger-carrying A321XLR flights in 2023. (Airbus)

American Airlines will feature a new line of 4K in-flight entertainment (IFE) seat-back screens developed by Samsung and Thales on a fleet of Airbus A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft that the Texas-based international carrier currently has on order.

American will become the launch customer of the Optiq displays that use Samsung's proprietary Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode (QLED) technology, a key next-generation feature of the Thales AVANT IFE system. The 4K displays are expected to make their debut in 2023 on the fleet of 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft that American ordered in 2019, according to a Dec. 13 announcement from Thales.

The 787-9s to feature the Optiq displays are also expected to enter service in 2023, based on adjustments to American’s Boeing 787 orders that the carrier reported in its first-quarter 2021 results. A total of five Boeing 787-9s will feature the new displays.

"AVANT will be integrated with American’s high-speed connectivity system to provide digital services and real-time health monitoring & reporting," according to Thales. American is equipping the A321s and 787s it has on order with Viasat in-flight connectivity.

Every Optiq display also features a Bluetooth connection option for passengers with Bluetooth-capable headphones. Thales first announced the new Optiq display technology as the result of a partnership with Harman International—a Stamford, Connecticut-based Samsung subsidiary that makes audio electronics—in June.

Thales first unveiled its new Optiq displays featuring Samsung's QLED technology in June. (Thales)

Samsung describes its proprietary QLED technology as a “display device that uses quantum dots (QD), semiconductor nano-crystals which can produce pure monochromatic red, green, and blue light. Photo-emissive quantum dot particles are used in RGB filters, replacing traditional colored photoresists with a QD layer.”

In a Sept. 30 article, consumer electronics publication CNET details the fundamental differences between QLED and OLED display technology and notes that Samsung has been using quantum dots to augment its LCD television displays since 2015. The QLED TV display branding was first launched by the company in 2017.

"American Airlines has trusted Thales as an in-flight entertainment supplier for more than a decade and now to equip its new A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft with the latest AVANT IFE solution,” Yannick Assouad, Executive Vice-President Avionics, Thales said in a statement. “As air travel begins to recover, Thales continues to invest in digital innovations that create value for our customers. We’re truly excited to provide these solutions to American and its customers."

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