During a short trip aloft from Newcastle International Airport in Northern England, passengers along for a demonstration flight aboard a Boeing Business Jet were treated to a sampling of top stories from BBC World News, courtesy of in-flight entertainment system supplier Airia. But they weren’t able to switch over to watch their favorite sitcoms or game shows.
Aircraft passengers should be able to use their own cellphones in flight safely and conveniently before the end of this year through a new service developed jointly by satellite operator Inmarsat, aircraft communication systems specialist Arinc and mobile telephone service provider Telenor.
Today’s world, including the business jet, is all about being connected. The executives now moving into the cabins of these aircraft are more aware than any previous generation of the need to stay in touch with events below.
These are customers for whom being isolated for just a few hours can cost a deal. Every day, in every way, they are connected–to the office, the broker, the stock market, the clients, and to the wife and kids.
The Boeing 777-200LR making its airshow debut here this week is to be fitted with AeroMobile mobile cellular technology later this year. The 777-200LR here is the second prototype and is being used primarily for interior certification. AeroMobile, the result of a partnership formed by Arinc and Telenor, is designed to leverage Inmarsat’s “classic” Aero-H, -H+ and -I satellite communications services currently available.
In what is being billed as the biggest such deal in airline history, Air Canada has picked Thales as its supplier-of-choice for in-flight entertainment systems across its fleet of 241 airplanes. The Thales IFE system, called TopFlight i-4500, will be fitted in Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Bombardier models flown by the airline.
The Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner which made a record flight between Hong Kong and London earlier this month was equipped with technology from AeroMobile, a joint venture between Arinc and Telenor, enabling passengers to use cell phones en route.
The FCC has approved AirCell’s air-to-ground frequency license, clearing the way for the Louisville, Colo. company to begin rolling out the ground infrastructure to support its new broadband communications service.
Middle East air passengers can soon look forward to using their personal cell phones in flight. Mobile phone technology specialist OnAir of Geneva, Switzerland, will begin tests on the commercial use of mobile phones aboard TAP Portugal Airbus A321s later this year. According to OnAir CEO George Cooper, Gulf state airlines will likely be among the first to offer the service.
Widespread testing has proven that new technology allows for in-flight use of cell phones without disrupting terrestrial networks. Now developers face the challenge of winning airworthiness approval for the systems and the licenses to use the relevant frequencies.
The partnership established last year between Garuda Indonesia and Germany’s Lufthansa Systems reached its first milestone earlier this month with the implementation of 0e-ticketing for the Jakarta-based carrier.