Later this year, passengers will be able to access the internet using their own mobile devices via wi-fi to carry out basic surfing and email and video streaming
Lufthansa’s fleet of A320 aircraft will be the first in Europe to take off with broadband internet onboard after the carrier was granted a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the European Air Safety Agency (EASA). It will be available on short- and medium-haul aircraft.
The certificate allows Lufthansa to install a Ka-band antenna on its entire A320 family which includes the A319, A320 and A321 models. The STC verifies that the modifications to the aircraft (hardware or software) conform to design specifications stipulated by EASA as well as its continued air worthiness.
The first aircraft was equipped with the technology in June and the onboard system will be tested for functionality and stability in the coming weeks.
Lufthansa passengers are expected to be able to use the new internet service from October when they will be able to access the internet using their own mobile devices via wi-fi. In addition to basic surfing and email, other more sophisticated applications will be possible, including video streaming. Passengers will also be able to use their cellphones for SMS and data transfer via their own mobile accounts at some stage in the future.
The future service from Lufthansa and its technology partner Inmarsat is based on the latest broadband satellite technology (Ka-band) and offers seamless, reliable coverage on short- and medium-haul flights through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network.
To install the system, electrical and structural modifications were required both inside and outside the aircraft cabin. All modifications were developed and approved by Lufthansa Technik’s licensed development unit. The installed components were integrated in the cabin infrastructure in such a way that they are virtually invisible for passengers and easy to operate by the cabin crew.
Other airlines in the Lufthansa Group are expected to incorporate the technology at a later date.
Lufthansa carried out the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband internet access on January 15, 2003. Despite its growing popularity among passengers, the technically reliable service had to be discontinued in 2006 because the Connexion by Boeing satellites ceased commercial operations.