Paris Air Show

In-flight entertainment stars in the Thales orbit

 - December 15, 2006, 4:49 AM

Thales Aerospace boss François Quentin sees in-flight entertainment (IFE) equipment as the fastest growing of the division’s businesses. It will improve the civil/military balance and the proportion of U.S. revenues, he said. Quentin is also keen on explaining how Thales’ so-called multi-domestic strategy is paying off.

“IFE sales will triple in 2005 compared to 2004,” Quentin told Aviation International News on the eve of the show. Today’s claimed 25-percent market share should reach 50 percent shortly, he added. It will significantly help to balance military/civil activities from the current 70/30 to the targeted 60/40.

Asked about the relatively modest 10- to 15-percent share of the U.S. in Thales Aerospace revenues, Quentin replied that IFE sales were to double there. “We also want to do more with Boeing,” he said. Recent selections on the Boeing 787 have already improved the situation on the civil side. However, Quentin pointed out no offer had been made for the 787’s flight deck. “We did not want to bid on the 787 because we have a strong position on Airbus flight decks–this is our strategy,” he explained.

The Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle (UAV) program is a major contract for Thales Aerospace. “We hope it to be officially signed in July,” Quentin said. According to him, it is evidence that the multi-domestic strategy works.

“The Watchkeeper would never have been exported from France but we have 12,000 employees in the UK,” he emphasized. Quentin also wants his division to build on the Watchkeeper momentum to find more application platforms for its systems. Thales’ IFE base in Singapore, with customer support, content management and sales and marketing departments, helped being selected by Malaysia Airlines, he added. He asserted that finding synergies is not hampered by the multi-domestic strategy: “We do not do the same thing twice.”

This year and early next year, preparing for Airbus A350 selections will be among the hottest activities. Thales is simultaneously starting to think of Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737 replacement.