OnAir plans 'quiet times' of no voice calls in aircraft
Following surveys - showing that airline passengers are nervous about the nuisance value of inflight phone calls by their neighbours - OnAir has revealed that its in-plane technology will be able to limit passengers to text-only for "quiet times" during flight.
The company is also on course, it says, for a full launch in European flying aircraft in the middle of 2006.
The revelation came in the announcement of a deal with Siemens to provide the essential "picocell" GSM transceivers for inflight telephony which OnAir is now offering not just to its own (Airbus is a partner in OnAir) aircraft builder, but also to Boeing.
In last week's PR announcement George Cooper, OnAir CEO, said: “This is a significant milestone. Siemens brings huge expertise to this ground-breaking business enterprise. We are very pleased that such a strong player in the telecom industry is taking on a critical role in making the OnAir vision happen.”
OnAir in-seat SMS and mail services are already available on Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Eva Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lauda Italy, Malaysian Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.
The new voice features will be "voluntary" in the sense that the existing equipment will be upgraded to carry GSM phone calls - but only when aircrew permit. "The aircraft crew will have access to a dedicated control panel for switching the system into the selected service mode (e.g. text-only) and monitoring the system status. This will ensure that 'quiet' times are respected in the cabin," said the announcement.
OnAir is jointly owned by SITA INC (information Networking Computing) and Airbus.
The full 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: to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, read and send e-mails, access corporate networks, browse the internet or chat over the internet.
However, if this service is going to include WiFi access (as Connexion by Boeing already offers) then OnAir isn't saying much about that.
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