Singapore Airlines (SIA) has announced it will offer customers in-flight Wi-Fi internet and mobile telephony services in 2011, six years after trialling in-flight internet services.
The service, developed in a multi-million dollar collaboration with OnAir, will enable customers to send and receive SMS text messages with GSM-compatible mobile phones, send and receive email messages, and make and receive voice calls in-flight.
The rollout, scheduled to start in the first half of 2011, will be implemented progressively on medium to long haul routes, operated by SIA’s Airbus A380, Airbus A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a total of 43 aircrafts being installed with the OnAir system.
A spokesperson for SIA told Computerworld Australia that the in-flight connectivity system had been designed and certified specifically not to interfere with avionic systems, however, in line with regulations, passengers will still be advised to switch off their electronic devices during take-off and landing.
Singapore Airlines’ senior vice president product and services, Kim Wah Yap, said the airline first introduced internet connectivity on board its Boeing 747-400 aircraft back in 2005.
“Today, with the increasing importance of remaining connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircraft with the full suite of telephony and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected,” he said in a statement.
“Unlike the earlier trial introduction of an Internet service, this suite of features is for full implementation and we are pleased to offer this as an added choice to our inflight program.”
According to Yap, the new service aims to replicate the connectivity customers have become accustomed to on the ground.
OnAir chief executive, Ian Dawkins, said the rollout signifies to the industry that in-flight passenger connectivity has “come of age” and is necessary for airlines looking to stay competitive in the future