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Virgin Australia passengers could soon enjoy the wonders of airborne WiFi under a joint development project with Lufthansa Systems.

The companies have signed a letter of intent to produce and deploy BoardConnect, which will cover both devices and the back-end system, with launch planned for mid-2012.

BoardConnect will give Virgin passengers the ability to control and view a range of film, TV, gaming and audio content from personal entertainment devices and WiFi-enabled laptops.

The on-demand service will include information and destination guides in addition to commercial travel offers. The airline is looking at incorporating third party offers, advertising and online booking and e-commerce facilities as the service develops.

The airline has yet to announce its manufacturing partners for the devices.

Virgin Australia group executive product and guest services, Martin Daley said that the growing number of travellers carrying their own devices meant this new inflight entertainment system would allow Virgin Australia to remain at the forefront of technology.

According to Australian Business Traveller, passengers who bring their own wireless equipped devices will have access to in-flight movies, TV shows and music for free.

A limited number of tablets will be available for business class passengers use while those in economy will have to pay a fee for renting them.

Qantas announced it would be trialling similar services via the iPad on its domestic and international flights. Qantas will begin a six-week trial of its WiFi streaming system for the iPad early next year. ®

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