Thales, a leader in in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems, and China Electronics Technology Avionics Co., Ltd. (CETCA), signed a joint venture agreement that brings together world-class technology solutions companies dedicated to the new C919 aircraft, manufactured by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). The official signing took place at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany; attended by Thales and CETCA senior management. The joint venture operations are expected to begin in the third quarter of 2012, following final approval by the relevant authorities.
The partnership supports the integration of the Thales TopSeries system in the cabin of the C919 aircraft. Designed and built in China, the 156-190 seat C919 will first take flight in 2014, with aircraft deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016. The Thales system will be a scalable platform offering services ranging from interactive audio capability through to full in-seat on-demand services, with an emphasis on minimising weight, cost and power consumption. Future evolution of the system will likely include wireless networks and connectivity.
Thales and CETCA are dedicated to establishing this joint venture as a global center of excellence which provides capabilities covering research development, production, adaptation, maintenance for the in-flight entertainment market. The joint venture will augment Thales’ existing market leading IFEC business based in Irvine, CA. This joint venture takes C919 as the first initiative, and sells IFEC systems and equipment to COMAC and other Chinese OEMs. In addition, based on customer requirements, the joint venture will provide products and system integration in support of Thales’s core IFEC business to related aircraft worldwide.
"The global strength of Thales Group and our investment and growth strategy in partnership with both CETCA and COMAC is a strong combination that will ultimately change the landscape of the civil aerospace marketplace in China. We fully expect that there will be excellent demand for the C919 in China and we are proud to be part of this business arrangement," said Olivier Guibert, president of Thales’ China and North Asia region.
Mr. Zeng Li, General Manager of CETCA, stated that the "C919 program is just the start. China’s civil aviation industry is under fast development and the partnership with Thales has great potential." Over the next 20 years, the China market is forecasted to deliver 4,330 new aircraft with 71% being single aisle aircraft (excluding retrofit aircraft). The joint venture is in a position to leverage and evolve current technologies that optimise offerings for the single aisle and regional markets.