Linux takes a seat on Qantas’ new superjumbo

The Flying Kangaroo will soon become the Flying Penguin as Qantas embraces Linux-powered Inflight Entertainment systems from Panasonic.

Qantas' A380

Qantas' A380

Linux will be a passenger in every seat on Qantas’ Airbus A380s aeroplanes. All of the airline’s superjumbos – the first of which will commence flying next week – will have their in-flight entertainment systems powered by the operating system.

The A380 is the first Qantas aircraft to utilise the Panasonic eX2 Inflight Entertainment System (IFE).

All of Panasonic’s X Series of IFE systems run on Linux.

And Qantas is not limiting it to the A380s. The systems will feature in Qantas’ next batch of B737-800 aircraft (which will use the Panasonic eFX system) for both its Business and Economy customers, due in March 2009; its B787 or ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft also due next year; and on some of its older but soon-to-be revamped B767-300 fleet.

The eX2 powers many of the world’s leading airlines’ IFE. For example, Singapore Airlines already operates the eX2 on its A380s, B747 and B777 aircraft while Emirates will carry the same system on its batch of almost 60 A380 aircraft. It is believed two-thirds of the carriers who have placed orders for A380 aircraft will operate the eX2 IFE.

Qantas has said the IFE in the A380 aircraft will feature 17in touch screens that come equipped with noise cancelling headsets and video on demand options.

“Our system is state of the art and offers over 1000 entertainment options including everything from the latest release movies to our Lonely Planet destinational information as well as our tail mounted panoramic camera,” said John Borghetti, executive general manager at Qantas in a recent Web forum.

According to an article in Avionics Today, the A380 is the industry’s first one-gigabit backbone system, and will deliver something in the order of 5Mbps of data to the seat.

"That amount of bandwidth will provide not only high-quality video but concurrent capabilities like picture-in-picture, live text news and text messaging," said Neil James, director of corporate sales and marketing for Panasonic Avionics.

Qantas Flight QF 93 which departs Melbourne for Los Angeles on October 20 will be the airline’s first commercial flight with the new aeroplane.

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