After spending the last several years struggling to make inroads into the business aviation market, particularly in North America against the likes of Honeywell and Rockwell Collins, Thales Aerospace has decided to hone its approach by targeting its products not only to large business jet OEMs but also directly to business jet operators.
Thales Aerospace hopes a proactive approach to customer services will help it both win repeat business for its avionics and in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems and sustain the investment needed to develop new products.
Thales Aerospace this week is expected to unveil retrofit options covering four of its products in the business aviation market. The French group already has a U.S. presence and is creating a dealer and installation center network to deal directly with operators.
The new TopFlight satellite data unit (SDU) from Thales is set to be installed on a new-build business aircraft later this year by an as yet unidentified manufacturer. According to the France-based electronics group, the equipment should be certified to support wireless communications for passengers by the second quarter of next year.
Gil Michielin, v-p and general manager of Thales Commercial Aircraft Solutions, has been appointed president of EUROCAE, the European air transport electronic systems and equipment standardization body. With 20 years’ experience in the industry, Michielin has worked on programs ranging from the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters to the A380 and 787 airliners.
Thales is to supply the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China with an Airbus A320 Standard 1.5.0 level-D full-flight simulator and an A320-configured Thales formation systems trainer.
As the A400M program gathers force, Airbus Military has chosen Thales as its preferred partner for training systems. A formal agreement covers the delivery of full-flight simulators to AMSL, plus an MoU for the provision of training solutions to France and the UK. AMSL and Thales will pool their considerable resources to provide training systems and services for A400M customers.
Danis Ranque, CEO of European electronics conglomerate Thales, insisted last month that the company is not likely to be the object of a merger or takeover, contrary to some speculation in the financial press. He said Thales posted a 7-percent improvement in operating income last year, driven by a 16-percent gain in defense electronics sales.
In a shift from its traditional role serving the airlines, Thales is preparing to expand its presence in North America this year with a line of avionics products for business jets. But before the manufacturer fully commits to the endeavor, it is putting extra emphasis on product support, an area that has caused headaches for the manufacturer–and its customers–in the past.
Boeing’s Alteon Training subsidiary has awarded a contract to Thales for 787 Dreamliner training equipment. The contracts call for Thales to install six suites of training equipment at key locations in the Alteon network of training centers, with first delivery scheduled for 2007.