OnAir Strengthens Business Aviation Presence

 - January 28, 2011, 9:30 AM

Geneva-based air/ground communication specialist OnAir, which had originally restricted its in-flight personal cellphone user system to the airline industry, has responded to demand by expanding availability of its service to the business aviation industry.

Jet Aviation and ACC Columbia of Hannover, Germany, have agreed to install the equipment on a range of business jets.

“It wasn’t difficult to adapt,” said OnAir CCO Stephan Egli. “From a technology point of view, it’s essentially the same equipment.”

Installation costs range from $200,000 to nearly $1 million, depending on the size of the aircraft and its existing equipment.

While satellite coverage is global, the need for regulatory approval from individual countries means there are still some gaps in OnAir’s coverage. The biggest roadblock is U.S. airspace, where the FCC bans the use of cellphones on board aircraft. Egli said he expects this to change. Meanwhile, there is near-100-percent coverage over Europe and coverage in Asia is improving, “so it won’t be long before you can use the service pretty much anywhere.”