Titan’s A321LR Debuts Airbus’ New Wireless IFE System

Airbus has successfully delivered its first aircraft with a line-fit inflight entertainment system that is entirely based on wireless technology. A Titan Airways A321LR has been kitted out with routers, access points, and software to provide content on a completely wireless basis. Working in partnership with Bluebox, Titan has ensured its customers can stream content on the go anywhere in the world.

Titan Airways, A321LR, Airbus
Titan Airways’ A321LR is the first to use Airbus’ new system. Photo: Airbus

Fit for a Titan

Delivering inflight entertainment wirelessly has long been a goal for the sector. Now, Airbus has successfully delivered its first aircraft with this option line-fitted: An A321LR for Titan Airways.

UK-based Titan operates charter and wet lease services, catering to everything from a concert in the clouds to northern lights spotting over the Arctic. The A321LR is the first to join the fleet, with another due in early 2021.

The Airbus ‘Open Software Platform’ (OSP) system allows airlines the flexibility to source content from a range of IFE partners. For Titan, it went with Bluebox, a Dunfermline, Scotland, based provider. Bluebox was the first W-IFE partner selected by an airline customer for the Airbus OSP back in 2019. It has since been working to ensure complete compatibility and compliance with Airbus’ quality standards.

Titan Bluebox IFE
Titan Airways’ IFE Passenger Interface. Photo: Bluebox Aviation Systems

James Macrae, Chief Technology Officer at Bluebox, commented,

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19 during development, the tests ran very smoothly, and we are really happy to have achieved this significant milestone. To be the first IFE vendor with a proven working W-IFE system on Airbus OSP is a really exciting position to be in right now – especially within the context of something as significant and complex as Airbus’s overall IoT program.

“It was a strategic investment for us before COVID-19 and remains so as W-IFE is set to make real gains in the post-COVID world thanks to the ease of deployment and emphasis on touchless travel solutions. Enabling that final link to passenger devices – for entertainment, retail, and other in-flight engagement applications – from the point of aircraft delivery will become the new standard, and we’ve proven we can deliver it.”

Titan is one of five launch customers for the Airbus OSP system. While not named as yet, the other four are said to be a mix of lessors and airlines. The system is available both as a line-fit and retrofit solution and can be adapted to suit widebody as well as narrowbody operations.

Testing the system

Flight testing for the system was undertaken between October 28th and 30th. After many hours of on the ground testing, Titan’s A321 headed out of London’s Stansted Airport to conduct a flight test on October 29th. This flight took it on a two-hour trip to put the system through its paces ahead of activation.

Bluebox titan airways
The test flight route, as shown on Bluebox wireless IFE’s moving map. Photo: Bluebox Aviation Systems

During the test fight, 150 iPads were set up on the aircraft to test its functionality under live flight conditions. The assessment included streaming content, using the moving map, accepting third-party apps and WiFi connectivity.

Bluebox Titan W-IFE
150 iPads were set up to test the system. Photo: Bluebox Aviation Systems

Titan Airways’ Project Manager and Performance Engineer Andrew Taggart said,

“Any new platform with the technical complexity of Airbus OSP would have been challenging enough to deliver, but then, with one of our customers already in line to fly our new aircraft, Bluebox was faced with a triple challenge – develop two IFE portals concurrently, to meet our general charter business needs and those unique and specialised requirements of our customer TCS, and do so in spite of a global pandemic. I think I speak for ourselves and our customer in saying Bluebox stepped up and delivered an impressive result.”

Titan Airways W-IFE
Two of Titan Airways’ project team; (L) Andrew Taggart, Airbus A320 TRI, EFB Manager, Project Manager and Performance Engineer; and (R) Mark Holt, Account Director
Photo: Titan Airways

Titan’s first customer for its stunning black A321LR is TCS World Travel, a luxury tour operator based in Seattle. TCS demanded some pretty high brow performance from its IFE setup, and through its partnership with Bluebox and Airbus, it seems Titan will be successful in matching these requirements.