Thales technologies onboard the A380
Nov. 2, 2009, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France – On Oct 30, 2009, Air France today took reception of its first A380 aircraft, the largest passenger jet in the world.
November 2, 2009 By Carey Fredericks
Nov. 2, 2009, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France – On Oct 30, 2009, Air France today took reception of its first A380
aircraft, the largest passenger jet in the world. This super-sized aircraft -capable of carrying
855 passengers, but carrying only 538 in the Air France version -is at the forefront of
innovation in aviation, displaying a superior design that combines unparalleled size and
might with aesthetics and grace.
The wings alone on this record-breaking super jet each measure 845m2. The A380 also
boasts 50 percent more floor surface than any other high capacity aircraft, giving passengers
space to relax in what is the quietest cabin of any airliner currently in service.
Thales is a long-standing Airbus partner, and the main supplier of the A380’s cockpit display
systems – its technology can be found throughout the aircraft’s avionics system, covering
navigation, flight controls, electrical power systems and utilities such as braking systems and
door management* systems. The A380’s passenger doors are for the first time ever
electronically controlled instead of mechanically operated. Within the cabin, the company
provides state-of-the-art lighting systems and Inflight Entertainment systems.
Thales systems comprise a significant percentage of the electronics onboard the A380 and
as such the company plays a significant role in bringing the aircraft to market. An average of
350 Thales employees per year worked on developing systems onboard the A380 over a
period of five years.
Thales in addition supplied the A380 with a state-of-the-art full flight simulator for crew
training. Innovative Thales solutions give crews on the A380 all the onboard intelligence they
need for flying the aircraft, and the company’s expertise in simulation and air traffic
management provides the breadth of vision required to further develop optimum solutions for
this aircraft of the future.
(1) In partnership with Diehl Aerospace (3) Supplied to Messier Bugatti
(2) Developed by Aerolec, a JV with Goodrich (4) Developed and supplied by Diehl Aerospace
45, rue de Villiers, 92526 Neuilly sur Seine Cedex -France -Tel.: +33 (0) 1 57 77 86 26 -Fax: +33 (0) 1 57 77 87 44
Innovation for the Pilot
The A380 cockpit contains completely new technology, such as the Integrated Modular
Avionics (IMA) suite, never before seen on an aircraft. With an eye on the future, the cockpit
has been designed in a way that will reduce training costs and optimise use of airline
resources. Namely, an A380 pilot will need just minimal amounts of training to be able to
transfer to the new layout and functions of the next generation A350 XWB.
Innovation and IMA
The A380 is the first aircraft ever to be fitted with the Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) suite,
a major technical evolution of global importance for airlines and operators. Designed by
Airbus and co-developed with Thales and Diehl Aerospace, the IMA is a leap-ahead
technological innovation, with all onboard computing modules networked and able to support
different applications. The result is a substantial improvement in computing power, reliability,
maintainability, volume, weight and scalability.
Through its IMA platform, Thales has halved the number of parts required, leading to
significant gains in direct maintenance costs as communication between the different
systems is optimised. The principles of standardisation and the multiple use of function units
are applied by combining computing as well as input and output functions in standardised
The IMA solution maximises the benefits of reuse developed for the Airbus A380 and specific
requirements of the A400M, the Airbus military transport aircraft currently under
development. For the A400M, the IMA has been adapted to meet military requirements for
resistance to higher vibration levels, higher electromagnetic compatibility and necessary
lightning protection system.
Innovation and the Onboard Airport Navigation System
Thales is providing the world’s first Onboard Airport Navigation System (OANS) within the
A380 cockpit, providing crewmembers with improved situational awareness on airport
surface manoeuvres. OANS allows the flight crew to more efficiently navigate at airports,
which have become increasingly congested.
The OANS draws on an Airport Mapping Database (AMDB) to dynamically display the
aircraft position on high-resolution geo-referenced airport maps. This information is
presented to pilots via a large format liquid crystal display (Navigation Display).
On ground, the function displays high-resolution airport moving maps that depict the aircraft’s
position in relation to airport surface features for taxiing operations from and to the gate. The
system and database are designed with commonality for Airbus aircraft, first deployed on the
A380, and then on A330/A340, A320 families, as well as on the future A350XWB.
Innovation and Head-Up Display
The Head-Up Display (HUD) is making its first appearance on an A380 aircraft with the entry
into service of the A380 with Air France, the first airline to select the Thales HUD (in dual
configuration) for this aircraft type. The European Aviation Safety Agency certified the Thales
HUD on the A380 in both single (left seat only) and dual (left and right seats) configurations.
Other Thales A380 HUD customers include China Southern Airlines and Korean Air.
The HUD increases pilot situational awareness by creating the conditions for a smoother
transition from head down to head up. This feature is particularly advantageous during
approach and landing phases, when it displays trajectory related symbols superimposed on
the pilot’s actual external view.
The new Thales HUD is based on innovative and proven technologies and is already
available as a catalogue option on Airbus Single Aisle and A380 aircraft families in current
Innovation for the Passenger
Innovation and Inflight Entertainment
Air France is equipping all of its A380 fleet with the advanced Thales TopSeries Inflight
Entertainment (IFE) system. This system provides high-speed delivery of onboard services
with large, widescreen displays at every seat. Air France A380 passengers can access a
broad range of entertainment that includes approximately 100 on-demand movies, 300 audio
CDs, 26 games, live camera, flight information map, in-seat chat and a customised menu
option for children.
Air France is the first airline to equip each seat in the Affaires and Voyageur cabins with a
USB socket, enabling passengers to download content such as flight schedules, information
on Air France, destinations guides, games for children, as well as relaxation videos and
podcasts. Passengers select the "Forum" programme from the list, which automatically
disconnects when another application is selected.
The TopSeries IFE system is the first passenger system of its type to integrate on-demand
entertainment and in-seat power to accommodate personal electronic devices. With a
growing market share that today exceeds 40%, this web-based system is scalable to any
aircraft and has been selected by more than 50 airlines worldwide.
Innovation and Cabin Lighting
Thales and Diehl’s joint venture company Diehl Aerospace, the world leader in cabin mood
lighting, supplies the general cabin lighting system onboard the A380. This solution consists
of the very latest technology for cabin lighting installations on commercial airliners in service.
The system enhances passenger relaxation by means of innovative ceiling mood lighting
throughout cabin, creating restful day and night ambiences. These lighting innovations
contribute to diminishing the effects of jet lag.
The so-called mood lighting effect is created by the Hybrid Integrated Ballast Unit (HIBU)
system, by means of which LED elements complement conventional fluorescent light tubes.
The HIBU system is superior to previous cabin lighting installations on long-range aircraft,
because its MELODY (Modular Enhanced Low Dimming) technology allows for more
variation than ever before in lighting scenarios.
MELODY means that cabin light on the A380 can be dimmed down to 0.1 per cent, and the
technology is particularly effective for simulating a gradual increase of light again. As such,
day and night effects can be simulated very subtly.
Thales is very proud to be onboard the A380 and to have worked alongside Airbus to
tailor the very latest technological innovations to meet the needs of this superior