Technology provider Thales is hoping to automate new movie releases on its AVANT inflight entertainment (IFE) system from around 2020 and to introduce live TV replay functionality by 2018.

Currently, movies have to be manually uploaded to the aircraft by a technician on the ground, meaning that it may take a while for pre-release content to reach passengers.

However, speaking to ATW at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Thales VP-global sales and marketing GM international operation William Huot-Marchand said work is underway to beam this content to the aircraft by satellite as soon as early content rights permit.

This functionality, which will be available as an option to Thales’ customers, is likely to come online around 2020, although Thales is hoping to go live sooner if possible. The wait is largely dependent on available bandwidth and satellite capacity, such as SES 17, which will not be available before then.

“This is something we are developing and will launch soon,” Huot-Marchand told ATW.

The service, which will simplify processes, speed up early content roll-out and cut costs, will initially be available in North America and on transatlantic flights. A wider global roll-out is complicated by rights issues and will depend on GX satellite coverage.

In the shorter term, Thales is also working on functionality that would allow passengers to pause and rewind live TV such as sports events.

Huot-Marchand said this should be available, with global coverage, from around 2018 through Thales’ AVANT platform.

Victoria Moores