16 October, etc.venues Monument
30 October, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
1st November 2023, etc.venues County Hall
OnAir, the joint venture between Airbus and SITA, a provider of communications and IT infrastructure to the airline industry, has confirmed the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) certification for airborne GSM equipment on the Airbus A320 series.
For the first time, this will enable airline passengers in Europe to use their BlackBerry-type devices and mobile phones during flights.
OnAir CEO, Benoit Debains, said: ”The airborne equipment has been designed to meet the specific needs of the aviation environment. This certification validates the integrity of the work that Airbus has done in developing and integrating technology from best of breed suppliers.”
The mobile telephony service allows passengers to use their BlackBerry-type devices and mobile phones during flights to send and receive emails and text messages. The service will be launched by Air France, followed by bmi and TAP (of Portugal).
All three airlines will run commercial trials on Airbus aircraft, which will allow them to fine-tune their passenger communications offer and evaluate it before embarking on a full scale installation. However, the initial fleet deployment of OnAir”s services will be on Ryanair”s Boeing 737 aircraft.
Based in Kaula Lumpur (Malaysia), Air Asia will be the first airline in Asia to introduce OnAir mobile starting in early 2009. The airline”s entire fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft will be fitted with the equipment, including aircraft currently flying and those on order ” a total of 150.
AirAsia”s new venture, AirAsia X, a long-haul low-cost airline, has also signed a similar agreement for OnAir”s passenger communications services to be installed on the airline”s recently ordered Airbus A330 aircraft, as CEO Tony Fernandes (above) has confirmed.
With the first generation of on board phones a financial disaster for the airlines it remains to be proven whether there will be sufficient take-up of the latest equipment to make it financially acceptable. Opinion seems divided regarding fellow passengers” reaction to use of the mobile phone facility, but the text/email provision appears to have universal acceptance. The question is ”will it be viable?”