São Paulo and London – TAM Airlines’ passengers will, in around a year, be able to use their mobile devices aboard the company’s entire long haul-fleet, including Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The decision to extend OnAir’s services follows nine highly successful months in which passengers have enjoyed the chance to make phone calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and access the Internet on selected TAM short-haul flights.
Through cell network, passengers will be able to use their mobile phones. They will also be able to use notebooks, tablets or other devices compatible with WiFi to access the internet.
OnAir’s connectivity services, based on Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband (SBB), will be deployed on TAM’s 12 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (four already in the fleet and eight to be received by 2014), as well as on ten A330s and twenty-seven A350s (to be delivered between 2014 and 2018). Including 31 short-haul aircraft, out of which four are already in service, a total of 80 aircraft will be equipped with OnAir’s services over the coming few years.
The long-haul OnAir service will be rolled-out from the second half of 2012. Installation on the 31 short-haul planes has already started with OnAir connectivity gradually coming into service between now and the beginning of next year.
José Zaidan Maluf, TAM’s Supply and Contracts Vice President says: “Passengers want to stay in touch during flights. We have seen that with the popularity of OnAir’s services on our short-haul aircraft. There is no doubt that inflight connectivity will become ubiquitous and we are determined to lead the way. That is why TAM will be the first airline in the Americas to provide the full range of passenger connectivity services on their long-haul fleet.” The company is also the first to offer WiFi connectivity on board in South America.
Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir, says: “OnAir services are very flexible, meaning they are the right choice for an airline wanting to equip both long and short range planes, and needing to provide passengers the full suite of connectivity services. We also offer a clear and straightforward upgrade path to Global Xpress, Inmarsat’s Ka-band solution.”
Dawkins continues: “We are the only inflight connectivity services provider to have customers on five continents, meaning we are the only truly global provider.”
All the relevant telecom regulatory approvals and roaming agreements are already in place. TAM Airlines has already received airworthiness certification from ANAC, the Brazilian civil aviation authority, for the short-haul aircraft and will submit a similar request for the long-haul aircraft prior to installing the connectivity system and activating OnAir services. The system has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) since 2009 and is in use commercially with a number of major airlines.
OnAir services operate over Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, providing global coverage, meaning TAM’s passengers will be connected all over the world. The satellite connectivity to and from the aircraft operated today is provided in partnership with Arycom, Brazil’s main provider of Inmarsat services.