AeroMobile supports effort to gain Airbus line-fit offerable status

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AeroMobile is standing beside partner Panasonic Avionics as it works to secure line-fit offerability from Airbus for the in-flight mobile connectivity provider's solution.

Panasonic is a primary distributor of AeroMobile hardware, and offers it to airlines under the brand eXPhone as part of its suite of connectivity solutions. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) manufacturer's vice-president, global communications services David Bruner yesterday revealed the firm is having difficulty receiving line-fit offerability from Airbus for eXPhone "despite several airline customer requests".

Asked by ATI to address Panasonic's remarks, AeroMobile chief commercial officer Peter Tuggey says: "AeroMobile is actively supporting Panasonic in on-going negotiations with both Airbus and its airline customers regarding the benefits of our award-winning system on line-fitted aircraft. We have already successfully retro-fitted our system on six different airframe types spanning both Boeing and Airbus aircraft."

AeroMobile's system is currently retrofit certified for the Airbus A330, A340-300, and A340-500 as well as the Boeing 777-200, 777-300 and 777-300ER. Emirates is a substantial AeroMobile customer.

However, Airbus has allegedly given no indication that it will make the AeroMobile service line-fit offerable on any aircraft in its portfolio, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

They allege Airbus is proposing a single option to airlines that want Inmarsat-supported mobile connectivity on new Airbus aircraft and that is OnAir, a joint venture between Airbus and SITA. In its 2005 approval of the OnAir joint venture between Airbus and SITA, the European Union stipulated that "post merger Airbus will remain free to install competing products if so requested by customers".

Tuggey says: "We are aware of the EU directive regarding open competition and Airbus-related products, but Airbus is rightly a world-renowned company, we are confident it will recognise the need for competition, especially in the current economic climate."

Airbus could not be reached for comment.