Airborne telephony service, the likes of which was previously offered by now-defunct Verizon Airfone!
That’s the revelation that Continental engineering project manager Brian Roland made at the recent World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Palm Springs.
Airfone in 2006 ended its service on board commercial airline flights. The air-to-ground (ATG) service was featured on over 1,000 aircraft flying in the Americas for Continental, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
“Flight ops want the old voice communications back,” said Roland.
As such, in 2007, the carrier inked a deal with Avionica to outfit nine Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft with the firm’s satLINK Iridium system, including antenna, wiring, structural elements and a control panel. The initial installations provide an Iridium phone handset in the cockpit.
In an update this year, IridiumEverywhere.com reported:
Continental must be pretty pleased. The carrier is “putting Iridium on a few of our fleets”, revealed Roland at WAEA.
Roland also revealed that Continental “sees a future need to have streaming maintenance data off the aircraft”.
But would Continental’s Iridium arrangement position the carrier to take advantage of LiveTV’s new Iridium-based Kiteline World global in-flight connectivity product?
Regular Iridium is 2.4 Kbps and $1.50 per minute, which is used for cockpit voice. Iridium Aero Openport operates at 128 Kbps and is supporting Kiteline World.
Continental is, however, in the process of equipping its Boeing domestic fleet with LiveTV’s latest generation live television product. And the carrier is set to experiment with LiveTV’s ATG-based domestic Kiteline email service on roughly 30 aircraft in the first quarter.
The service will be free.
Who else loves this carrier?