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APPROVED: OnAir receives green light for 1st Inflight Mobile Phone System
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 20.06.07 - 14:32:29 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 8107x
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OnAir yesterday announced that the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) has certified the airborne GSM equipment, which supports OnAir services on Airbus A318. For the first time, this will enable airline passengers in Europe to use their GSM mobile phones during flights.
EASA is the competent authority in the European Union with responsibility for the airworthiness certification of all aeronautical products. As such, it develops common safety rules at the European level and is also responsible for type-certification.

Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, 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. Debains continued, "This airworthiness certification is a major milestone in the process of bringing our service to market. It follows successful testing earlier this year."

The OnAir mobile telephony service will allow passengers to use their mobile phones during flights to send and receive E-Mails and text messages as well as make and receive calls. The service will be launched on an Air France aircraft, followed by bmi (Great Britain) and TAP (Portugal) aircraft. All three airlines will run single aircraft commercial trials on Airbus aircraft, which will allow them to fine-tune their passenger communications offer and evaluate it before embarking on a fuller-scale deployment. The first fleet deployment of OnAir's services will be on Ryanair's (Ireland) Boeing 737 aircraft.

While I definitely appreciate a system which can be used for SMS and data, I'm still not a big fan of the idea someone beside you can make phone calls. Imagine you are in the tourist class and the guy next to you is talking with his office 3 hours. How scary. Nevertheless, the OnAir system allows the cabin crew to switch on the "text-only" mode. In this mode, only data connections and text messaging is possible.
Last but not least the bad news: At the moment, OnAir supports GSM and GPRS only. Neither EDGE nor UMTS are supported which means OnAir isn't a real data replacement for Boeing's discontinued Connexion by Boeing which provided inflight W-LAN brodband services in the past. Therefore OnAir might be good enough to send/receive SMS, MMS and E-Mail messages - web surfing isn't a joy while VoIP is technically impossible.

Cheers ~ Arne


 
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