American Airlines Mulls Satellite-Based Airborne Connectivity Options

By now it’s well known that American Airlines will test AirCell’s air-to-ground (ATG) broadband solution next year on board its transcontinental Boeing 767-200 aircraft.

But the Oneworld alliance member is also “actively engaged” with connectivity suppliers in the satellite area, says American manager of in-flight communications and technology Doug Backelin.

You may recall that American was one of three US majors, including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, to sign on as equity partners in Boeing’s now-defunct Connexion (CBB) in-flight broadband service. All three carriers pulled out of the project following 9/11.

AirCell can offer ATG service across the USA, and expects to expand to Canada and Mexico. But overseas flights require a satellite link.

“We’re concentrating most of our efforts right now to make the AirCell test a success, but at the same time keeping an eye on satellite solutions, talking to satellite providers,” says Backelin.