DN - Defence Notes

It?s all Gogo at Virgin America

5th December 2008 - 15:37 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Virgin America has launched Aircell’s Gogo air-to-ground passenger connectivity service on one aircraft. The San Francisco-based carrier says that several more will be outfitted by the end of the month, and the whole fleet by the second quarter of next year. The service will go live on each aircraft as it is equipped. 

The service was introduced to the public with the usual Virgin America hoopla a fortnight ago, when the first aircraft, Airbus A320 N638VA, hosted an airborne launch event recorded in video streamed to the YouTube Live Web programme. Guests on the aircraft tried out the service, using laptops, smartphones and PDAs to send emails and access the Internet and private networks via the onboard wireless LAN and Aircell’s nationwide EV-DO-based air-to-ground system.

In the following week the service was offered free of charge to passengers travelling over the Thanksgiving holiday. Since Tuesday’s full launch it has been priced at $9.95 for flights of up to three hours, $12.95 for longer durations.

Virgin America is the second carrier to offer Gogo. American Airlines has the service on trial aboard 15 Boeing 767s and says it will be extended to the rest of the domestic fleet if it is well received. Air Canada and Delta have also signed up.  

“Our guests are enthusiastic about the full, unedited Internet experience that Gogo provides,” Virgin America chief executive David Cush said earlier this week.  “We look forward to the next phase of the project - integrating mobile communications into our Panasonic-based Red inflight entertainment service.”

Virgin America says its Gogo-capable aircraft can be tracked in real time via Google Maps at http://wifitracker.virginamerica.com. Though this could prove useful to passengers in the future, that address currently leads straight to the carrier’s standard flight status page. 

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