Air France has become one of the first airlines to introduce mobile phone services on international flights. The development will also allow passengers to use their laptops to send e-mails.At present only Qantas has a similar service that is offered strictly on domestic flights.
“We are seizing every opportunity to offer customers the latest technological innovations, while continuing to make their travel comfort and well-being our main priority”, stated Patrick Roux, Executive Vice President Marketing Air France.
Using to the Mobile OnAir system, passengers travelling on board one of the Airbus A318 aircraft operating European routes can now:
á Send and receive sms and mms messages
á Send and receive emails via all phones with Internet access
During the second half of the trial, passengers will be able to make and receive phone calls, with the service being regulated to maintain passengers’ comfort and well-being.
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 twenty-question survey.
At the end of the six-month trial, Air France will examine the feedback and comments made by customers to determine whether to launch this service on all its flights.
Benoit Debains, CEO of OnAir, said “We are delighted that Air France is the first airline to use the Mobile OnAir onboard mobile telephony system on international flights. This marks an important phase in the implementation of a new generation of in-flight services and we are confident that this trial will define the future standards in terms of in-flight passenger communication”.
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.
How does it work?
. 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.