Alaskan and Gulf Coast helo giant Era Aviation has entered the airline age with its recent signing of a five-year contract for use of Airline Automation Inc.’s (AAI) Internet booking engine and related services–in other words a complete airline-style carrier reservation system.
Aircell said it will charge a flat monthly fee of $1,495 for unlimited access to its air-to-ground broadband data service by business aviation users.
At the recent World Airline Entertainment Association trade show in Seattle, TEAC Aerospace Technologies introduced its new Air Tracks high-resolution in-flight moving-map software to rave reviews. Business aircraft operators got their first look at the map software at the NBAA Convention last month, and by all accounts they were not disappointed.
Avionics Innovations is showing its line of in-flight entertainment (IFE) equipment designed for helicopters at Booth No. 4819. Based on Ramona (Calif.) Airport in northern San Diego County, the company began life in 1994 with a small line of broadcast radio products for airplane and helicopter cabins, which has expanded with the growth of IFE.
Air France has started a six-month trial aboard an Airbus A318 with communications provider OnAir to provide cellphone services to passengers flying in Europe. For now, passengers can use their mobile phones to send and receive text messages,
e-mail and photos. After three months Air France intends to expand the service to allow passengers to make and receive phone calls as well.
Completion and refurbishment centers are racing to bring the latest technology into cabin entertainment with crisper, sharper pictures and better sound, user-friendly controls and improved reliability. On the cabin communications side, high-speed-data connections are finally poised to enter business aviation’s mainstream this year.
Teledyne Controls is leaping into the corporate-jet passenger information marketing scene as an equipment and software integrator, promising services “so powerful you’ll think you never left the ground.” These include worldwide voice and broadband data, real-time Internet and e-mail under the umbrella SmartCabin Office.
Boeing has been inundated by requests from business jet operators for information about its Connexion broadband satellite communications system since the widely publicized trial launch of the service in January aboard a Lufthansa 747-400.
Hoping to cash in on new types of airborne communications capabilities, Airbus has combined forces with SITA and Tenzing to form an in-flight service called OnAir, the European airframe integrator announced last month. Starting next year, the joint venture will offer broadband Internet connections and satcom service, with the eventual goal being airborne personal cellphone links by 2006.
Emirates Airline is on track by year-end to be the first carrier in the world to allow its passengers to make calls using their own mobile phones with the AeroMobile system. Earlier this year, AeroMobile, a joint venture between U.S.-based Arinc and Norway’s Telenor, completed a successful trial of the system with Australian carrier Qantas, and it is now ready for full revenue-service use.