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No pr0n surfing for Qantas A380 passengers

Airborne 'cached internet content' only

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There's some disappointing news today for passengers who were hoping to indulge in a bit of light smut surfing aboard Qantas A380s when the superjumbos enter service with the Oz airline next month - the company has pulled the plug on live net access and will instead offer merely "cached internet content" and access to web-based email and chat.

Qantas has 20 A380s on order, the first of which is due to enter service on 20 October on the Sydney/Melbourne and Los Angeles route. Last year, general manager John Borghetti was "talking up the inflight entertainment system" on the aircraft, as the Sydney Morning Herald puts it. He apparently trumpeted that "there has never been anything like this on board a commercial aircraft".

However, a Qantas spokeswoman has now announced that the intended service had been pared because of "logistical and regulatory issues" encountered by ISP OnAir, and that the full-fat content wouldn't be available until "later in 2009". She defended the decision by adding: "No airline operating the A380 currently offers a full internet service." OnAir "did not respond to requests for comment".

In fact, it appears the back-track may have been provoked by American Airlines' experience with unfiltered net access. The airline last month plugged in broadband internet access across its Boeing 767-200 fleet for $12.95 a flight.

A bad move, as it turned out, since the US Association of Professional Flight Attendants last week "called on the airline's management to install filtering software to block inappropriate sites, following complaints from flight attendants and passengers".

American Airlines responded in a statement that it preferred to "provide unfiltered connections - such as those found at the average home or office - and have flight crews monitor internet usage for inappropriate material".

Qantas declined to tell the Sydney Morning Herald what exactly A380 passengers would be allowed to view - apart from qantas.com, natch - or how much the censored service would cost.

What passengers will get, though, is "100 movies, 500 television show episodes, 1000 audio CDs, 20 radio channels and 80 games". Each seat also comes equipped with a laptop power socket and USB port which will "potentially allow passengers to access multimedia content from music players and portable hard drives through the seat-back screens".

Sounds promising, although we'll have to wait and see what happens if a member of the self-loading cargo decides to hook up a very hard drive to the in-flight system and enjoy 90 minutes of grumble flick classic Come Ride My Superjumbo Joystick via the seat-back screen. ®

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