Launch of Lufthansa jumbo with high-speed, in-flight Internet access in 2002
In cooperation with the provider Boeing, Lufthansa is realising the world’s first “flying office” by providing high-speed Internet connectivity services on all the aircraft in its long-range fleet.
Scott Carson, President Connexion by Boeing, and Wolfgang Mayrhuber, member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and CEO Passenger Airlines, signed an agreement to this effect on Sunday 17 June at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Both partners aim to equip a first commercial Boeing 747 jet with the system in 2002. The following year Internet access will become a regular component of Lufthansa’s in-flight service.
“Our passengers will find working conditions on board that are comparable to the familiar online applications on ground,” stressed Mayrhuber. “We have therefore made a deliberate decision to rely on global, highly efficient and future-oriented broad-band technology rather than the very restrictive narrow-band solution which has limitations on capacity and speed.” Thanks to the high transmission speed of broadband service, passengers will be able to work online and transmit larger files such as presentations without any problem. Narrow-band technology, on the other hand, can only handle pure text messages because of the significantly slower data transmission rate. In addition, it does not permit real-time access to the Internet but only the downloading of a limited number of Internet pages which have been stored before departure.
During a trial lasting several months Boeing and Lufthansa aim to find out more about passengers’ online habits and interests. It will be particularly valuable for business travellers to make flight and hotel reservations from their own notebook while airborne. In addition, the system will enable normal access to corporate intranets and e-mail servers.
Realising this ambitious project requires an extensive financial and technical planning. It will be necessary, for example, to set up a global satellite and data network for people on travelFurthermore, extensive certification is required for the use of the frequency band and on-board installations.
Lufthansa has long been the industry leader in terms of digital data exchange between aircraft and ground. Virtually all its aircraft are equipped with a satellite- or ground-based radio datalink system. These systems are employed, amongst other things, for the transmission of take-off and landing times, engine parameters and loading data. Luft-hansa also uses this communication channel for passenger information such as departure gates for transit passengers.
The state-of-the-art connectivity service is based on the satellite communication system developed by Connexion by Boeing; this system provides high-speed Internet access on Lufthansa aircraft. Last autumn Lufthansa Technik became the world’s first provider to equip a VIP Airbus A340 with a similar system.