has partnered with the Airbus facility at Buxtehude to develop and seek certification for an airborne system for the commercial use of mobile phones on board aircraft.“This airborne system is fundamental to OnAir’s business objective of making mobile phone use a reality on short and long haul flights for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft,” said OnAir CEO, George Cooper, speaking at the opening of Aircraft Interiors Expo 2005 in Hamburg today.
Airbus’s initial mandate for OnAir is to design, develop and certify a system which, it is intended, will be installed or retro-fitted on any of the Airbus A320 series of aircraft flying on routes in western Europe by mid-2006.
The OnAir airborne system is to include a lightweight GSM pico-cell and a network control unit which will ensure that passengers’ mobile phones may be switched on in the aircraft without generating interference to the aircraft systems or to the ground mobile networks in compliance with certification and regulatory requirements.
The system is also to include a server which manages the overall system and supports the establishment of communications through the satellite communications equipment, linking the airborne system to the OnAir ground infrastructure.
The airborne system will receive information from the aircraft systems such as altitude, aircraft position and flight phase. The cabin crew has access to a dedicated control panel for switching the system into the selected service mode (e.g. SMS and GPRS only) and monitoring the system status.
Mr. Rainer von Borstel, VP cabin electronics systems of Airbus Buxtehude, said, “We are happy to partner with OnAir and to play such an important part in this landmark development for modern aviation. This will be a very major addition to our existing suite of cabin systems for the world’s major aircraft manufacturers. We are actively identifying suppliers to work with us who have the required GSM and satellite communications experience.”
The complete OnAir service portfolio will allow airline passengers to use their personal devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs and laptops, to communicate in a variety of ways during flights, i.e. make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, read and send e-mail, access corporate networks, browse the Internet or chat. Some services, such as text messaging, are also provided through the in-flight entertainment system.