The new centre has been established by Thales in collaboration with Qatar Airways under the official name, Thales QSTP-LLC. In the first phase of development, a Joint Innovation and Technology Project will be established to further develop inflight entertainment (IFE) solutions for Qatar’s national carrier in the heart of the airline’s hub.
Thales, which already has an office in Qatar, has been creating new generation IFE solutions since 2009 for Qatar Airways’ narrow body fleet of Airbus A320s. The systems include touch-screen technology, with seat-back screens in Economy and arm rest screens in Business Class.
The French company will also provide revolutionary new in-flight entertainment and communication systems for the airline’s Boeing 787 aircraft, of which the first of 60 on order is scheduled for delivery this summer. Qatar Airways is the Middle East launch customer of the Boeing 787.
Addressing guests at the official opening of the new Thales Centre today, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that the airline was at the forefront of developing pioneering products for its passengers and that in-flight entertainment was no exception.
“Qatar Airways always works closely with its partners to take innovation to new levels for the benefit of its valued customers,” he said.
“We are delighted to see Thales choose to open this new training centre here in Qatar helping to further strengthen the already strong partnership that exists between the two companies.
“The new centre will ensure that the development and implementation needs of Qatar Airways will be met quicker with improved timelines for content updates on our aircraft.”
Added Al Baker: “IFE today plays a crucial role in a passenger’s decision making process when choosing which airline to fly with. 15 years ago IFE played a very small part of an airline’s product offering.
“Today, it is a crucial element in the entire package of services offered by airlines to passengers. Qatar Airways has understood the importance of entertainment, hence our inflight offerings have tripled from over 300 interactive audio and video options seven years ago to more than 1,000 today.”
Thales In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity Systems CEO, Alan Pellegrini said: “This grand opening in Doha symbolises our deep commitment to Qatar Airways and I am confident that the collective experience and talent of our organisations will play a significant part in the future of onboard systems and services.”
In 2010 and 2011, Qatar Airways and Thales received industry awards for the revolutionary Touch Passenger Media Unit (TouchPMU), a handheld media device that out performs all in-seat handheld inflight entertainment technologies.
Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of 108 aircraft to 113 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. The Doha-based airline has orders worth over US$ 50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 Family of aircraft. The rapid expansion of Qatar Airways prompted the State of Qatar to embark on one of its biggest projects – the construction of a brand new international airport in Doha, which is scheduled to open in 2012.
In addition to winning Skytrax’s prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 award during the summer, Qatar Airways was named Best Airline in the Middle East for the sixth year in a row, and its Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was named Best First Class Airline Lounge. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com. Skytrax is the only global independent passenger survey monitoring airline standards and is considered the ultimate benchmark for excellence in the airline industry.