TAM Airlines is offering inflight mobile communications through a pioneering partnership with OnAir using its industry-leading, onboard connectivity solutions.
Based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, the high-capacity service is now available to passengers travelling aboard TAM’s Airbus A321 operating between São Paulo’s Guarulhos Airport and Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre. Using OnAir’s service, passengers can make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and access the Internet through GPRS networks from their own GSM handsets.
“With our Spirit to Serve, we are innovating yet again to offer the best service,” says TAM Airlines’ Marketing Director, Manoela Amaro. “The demand for an onboard cellular was detected in research undertaken with our passengers who wish to be connected to work, family and friends while travelling.”
“We are delighted to help TAM deliver a service to their clients that will differentiate them from their competitors,” adds OnAir CEO, Ian Dawkins. “The service meets customers’ needs as they travel with TAM to and from Brazil’s fast-growing markets.”
The service allows as many as eight passengers to use their mobile phones simultaneously on a flight with no limits on data or text messaging. Mobile phones will work in exactly the same way as in international roaming and can be activated as soon as the aircraft reaches an altitude of 4,000 metres (13,000 feet). Passengers can use their smartphones onboard to access e-mails or surf the Internet and usage will be charged directly by the mobile network provider to the passenger’s phone bill at rates set by his or her usual provider.
During takeoff passengers will be instructed to switch off their electronic devices. The system provides complete aircraft safety by preventing any interference between mobile phone signals, mobile infrastructures on the ground and the aircraft‘s commands. If necessary, the OnAir system can be turned off by the aircraft’s crew at any time. It is important to note that, even if devices are inadvertently left on during landing and takeoff, they cannot interfere with the aircraft’s systems.
TAM Airlines received technical approval from the Brazilian National Agency of Civil Aviation (ANAC) as well as operational certification by the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) prior to installing OnAir’s services. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the system and its use was recently approved by the European Union.
Today, TAM has already installed the system onboard an Airbus A321 equipped with 220 seats. The company plans to equip more aircraft on domestic routes with the technology starting in 2011.