OnAir reports first flight with full range of connectivity services operational
OnAir has announced that together with Airbus, it has successfully conducted a 10-hour flight using the full spectrum of cabin and cockpit connectivity services based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband. The company says this is the first time that such an extensive range of services (GSM/GPRS together with WiFi internet) has been operated on any one flight.
The flight took place on 24 June, with a A340-600 flying a ten-hour route designed to demonstrate the robustness and global reach of OnAir services both for cabin and cockpit.
Passenger services on the flight provided internet access via laptops (wireless and cable), as well as the ability via mobile phones and smart phones to make and receive calls, to send and receive text messages and e-mails, and to access the internet. During the flight, Airbus engineers successfully placed as many as 16 calls simultaneously during the flight (OnAir services can handle unlimited SMS and GPRS traffic in addition to voice traffic).
Airbus engineers also tested connectivity services for the cockpit establishing both classic voice and ACARS datalink communications via the SITA ground infrastructure. The flight route took the aircraft far north over Greenland and triggered seamless satellite handovers between the I-4 and I-3 satellites, demonstrating the ability to maintain flight-critical services across such handovers.
Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, commented, “This milestone underlines OnAir’s leadership as the only service provider capable today of offering the full set of aircraft connectivity services for cabin and cockpit. The OnAir link will help airlines to improve operational efficiency through services such as electronic flight bag (EFB), and the communication of engine maintenance data.”