US mulls over allowing calls in the sky

Passengers will soon be able to use their smartphones during take-off and landingAir travellers could soon make calls from their mobile while on a flight under new proposals from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

New antennas could be fixed to aircraft that will mean passengers will be able to make phone calls and text while in the air, although not during take-off and landing.

The proposals will be discussed at a FCC meeting on 12 December and will then be open to public comments.

“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” FCC’s chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”

In-flight mobile providers have welcomed the announcement, with one confident that previous technical concerns by the FCC will be eradicated.

“Forget the hyperbole about the chaos inflight cell phone usage could cause. The issue simply hasn’t arisen anywhere in the world in the past six years,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

Dawkins also played down potential concerns from passengers that phone calls would create more noise onboard, saying: “An aircraft is a noisy environment, so the sound of a conversation doesn’t carry very far.”

Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile said the relaxation will create more ancillary selling opportunities for airlines and help US carriers compete with others that have already adopted connectivity solutions such as its own.

“The Notice of Proposed Rule Making is also great news for our current airline partners. As well as offering an improved service, extending coverage to the United States means increased ancillary revenues for those airlines that offer mobile connectivity,” he explained. “We are seeing increasing demand for our services as more and more airlines and passengers realise the benefits of inflight mobile connectivity. The ease of using your mobile phone inflight makes it perfect for checking voicemail, sending SMS messages, checking emails or updating your social media status.”

Texting is the most popular service on AeroMobile’s network with 60% of users sending texts through its services.

Sourced by Travel Daily UK


Vueling set to open more European bases

 By Rob Gill,

Vueling is likely to open more bases around Europe in the next few months, according to the boss of parent company IAG.

The Barcelona-based carrier, which was purchased by IAG earlier this year, last week announced it would be opening a new base in Brussels from May 2014.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh hinted that Vueling was likely to take advantage of “opportunities in other parts of Europe”.

“Do not be surprised if you see more Vueling bases announced in the months ahead,” added Walsh during a conference call with analysts.

“Vueling has great flexibility and speed of reaction to market opportunities. Vueling also has a product that’s superior against its principal low-cost competitors.”

But Walsh suggested that Vueling was not looking at Madrid as a potential new airport base.

“I don’t think Vueling needs to create a hub at Madrid – there are plenty of other opportunities that are more attractive than Madrid,” he said. “We already have a presence at Madrid in any case.”

Vueling is planning to expand at Seville from April 2014 with new routes to Palma, Asturias, Nantes and Lyon.

Meanwhile rapidly expanding carrier Norwegian, which is planning to fly from Gatwick to the US from next summer, is also to establish a base at Madrid from June 2014.

The airline will operate six routes from Madrid including daily flights to Gatwick, as well as services to Oslo, Warsaw, Hamburg, Helsinki and Stockholm.

Sourced by bbt


Singapore Airlines debuts in-flight mobile connectivity

Singapore Airlines debuts in-flight mobile connectivityBy Phil Davies

Singapore Airlines’ first aircraft equipped with AeroMobile’s in-flight mobile connectivity service took its inaugural flight from Singapore to London today (Friday).The new Boeing 777-300ER is the first of eight aircraft being delivered with cutting-edge in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi and GSM connectivity.The in-flight mobile service, powered by GSM provider AeroMobile, provides passengers with a way to stay connected during the flight.

Passengers will be able to use their mobile phones to send text messages as well as access internet, with seamless service coverage claimed between Singapore and London.

Travellers using any of the UK’s major mobile phone networks can access the service. The same applies for subscribers of Singapore’s three main mobile operators; M1, SingTel and StarHub. AeroMobile also has roaming agreements with 220 other mobile operators worldwide.

Company chief executive Kevin Rogers said: “We’re delighted to add Singapore Airlines to our growing list of airline partners. They join the likes of Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic, all of which are contributing to the increases we’re seeing in in-flight mobile use.

“Asia is a significant growth area for us, with more airlines scheduled to launch the service in the coming months. As well as Singapore Airlines we’re looking forward to working with Thai Airways and Garuda Indonesia in the not too distant future.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Emirates among carriers affected as AeroMobile leaky feeders fail tests

Some leaky feeder cables installed on aircraft fitted with the eXPhone mobile connectivity solution will require replacement following the discovery that they failed flammability testing, in a development that will impact big eXPhone customer Emirates and other airlines, ATI and Flightglobal can exclusively reveal.

The coaxial cable that radiates RF and supports a mobile phone pico-cell system on board aircraft is known as the “leaky feeder”. AeroMobile supplies the mobile connectivity system that is branded by Panasonic Avionics as eXPhone.

A source with knowledge of the situation said AeroMobile leaky feeders “failed flam and [it] looks like many will need to be removed/replaced”.

Furthermore, noted the source, Boeing “knows all about it also as they have stopped installing” eXPhone.

EASA is expected to publish a report on the matter in the coming weeks. With 86-plus aircraft installed with eXPhone, Emirates is AeroMobile’s biggest customer. However, eXPhone customers Air New Zealand and V Australia are also understood to be affected.

AeroMobile confirmed that it is “working with a new leaky feeder provider following a quality issue” with its prior cables.

It said it does not know how many aircraft are affected “at this point”, but that it is working with customers to ensure a seamless transition to the new cables if required.

Asked by ATI and Flightglobal if Boeing is comfortable with the new plan, and will not hold up linefits of eXPhone, AeroMobile said: “We are not in a position to speak for Boeing.”

Boeing could not be immediately reached for comment. Panasonic did not provide immediate comment.

Emirates said: “This quality issue was identified during routine testing and we are working with AeroMobile to assess the effect on installed aircraft, however expect it to impact only a small number of aircraft.”

As such, the failure could be relegated to a certain batch of cables, although it remains unclear how the cables originally passed flammability testing required for certification. An expert in the field of cabin systems explained: “The quality system in aerospace should be that you can trace back to birth any product so there should be a quality paperwork system linking every batch to that qualified part number. There should be a paper trail. So with anything like the leaky line you have the design, and then how it was produced, and whether it was produced per design and if all the materials were designed per qualifications.”

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