My colleague, aircraft cabin connectivity expert, Mary Kirby, reports that Boeing is under pressure to select a connectivity solution for the 787.
In addition, some 787 customer have been invited back to the Dreamliner Gallery to see view new cabin offerings. Continental Airlines, for example, was invited back to Boeing to review its cabin selections, but says it made no changes to its plans for the 787s on order, says Brian Roland, engineering project manager for the airline.
"There is a lot of things that Boeing is trying to do to deliver it [the 787] on time but the overwhelming and loud feedback from the customer is 'you have to address this issue [in-flight connectivity] and you have to do it very quickly'," reveals David Bruner, vice-president, global communications services for Panasonic, which is supplying in-flight entertainment hardware for 787 customers in addition to Thales.
Boeing famously failed in its own attempt to create a sustainable business model for airborne high-speed Internet in the form of Ku-band satellite-based Connexion by Boeing, which was switched off in the commercial sector at the end of 2006.
With regard to the 787, Boeing confirms that it has not selected its in-flight connectivity solution. "We are in the process of an extensive trade study on this subject at this time," says a Boeing spokeswoman.
The airframer is exploring Ku offerings in addition to solutions that use Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband (SBB) aeronautical service over L-band satellites, according to IFEC industry players.
"I was amazed because I thought they'd say 'it's going to be two or three years and we'll look at it [connectivity] again', but they've rekindled the effort with us and other providers to ask - 'what is the right answer for this aircraft'," says Bruner.
No word yet on whether or not other airlines shifted their original choices for the cabins on their 787s. However, if you ask Mary Kirby, I'd bet she'd say that the connectivity selection could change this quite a bit.