Boeing switched off
Connexion by Boeing, Air France has become the first airline in the world to
offer an in-flight mobile phone service on international flights. Using
the Mobile OnAir system, passengers travelling on board of one of the Airbus
A318 aircraft operating European routes can now send and receive SMS and MMS
messages as well as send and receive E-Mails via all phones with Internet
access. During the second half of the six month trial, passengers will also be
able to make and receive phone calls, with the service being regulated to
maintain passengers' comfort and well-being.
Mobile phones connect to a miniature cellular network installed inside this
aircraft. A modem transmits data and calls to a satellite that routes them to a
ground station. Data and calls are then routed to the passenger's usual
telephone network. This network is located inside the aircraft. Passengers'
mobile phones only emit at minimum power, which does not risk harming
interference with aircraft avionics or ground telecoms network.
Phones are used just like on the ground. To make a call on board the aircraft,
passengers simply dial the international prefix (+) or 00 + country code + full
number (without the 0). The cost of data exchanges are invoiced by the
customers' telephone operator and are comparable to those used for normal
international mobile phone calls.
It's neither said at which speed (and with which technology aka GPRS, EDGE or
UMTS) the data connection within the aircraft operates (while OnAir only
supports 2.5G yet) nor is it known at which speed the satellite connections
works. However, the OnAir FAQ speaks of up to 864 Kbps.
Customers on board this Airbus A318, with seating for 123 passengers, can
find out more about this service in an information leaflet in seat pockets.
Information will also be included in the cabin crew announcement. Air France
welcomes feedback on this service from its passengers, who can fill in a
At the end of the trial, Air France will examine the feedback and comments
made by customers to determine whether to launch this service on all its
The Mobile OnAir onboard mobile telephony system, certified by EASA (European
Aviation Safety Authority) does not interfere with the radio-navigation
instruments on this Airbus A318 and may only be used at cruising altitude once
the new illuminated sign "Switch off your phone" is turned off. The system is
activated at 3.000 metres (10.000 feet).
OnAir has roaming agreements with mobile network operators, including the
three major operators in France: Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR.
Cheers ~ Arne