Bombardier floats in-flight Wi-Fi on regional jets

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Bombardier is looking at the possibility of offering in-flight Wi-Fi as on option on its regional jets, and has entered discussions to work with Delta Air Lines.

Last November, Delta confirmed plans to extend its Aircell Gogo in-flight internet service to 223 regional jets operated by Delta Connection partners. Installations are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Jean-Guy Blondin, Bombardier CRJ programmes director, reveals that the airframer is interested in offering in-flight Wi-Fi in light of Delta's decision to offer Gogo on its smaller types.

"We've already started talking to Delta about that future need," he says. "Now, for some reason, being able to access internet from your own device, in our view, seems to be much more on demand than just watching TV or reruns.

"That's where the future is at. Because people can stay connected to the office using their computer or they can actually surf the internet and do what they want. They can play games. They can watch videos.

"So the internet approach offers a lot more value for the public. I see that Delta is going in the right direction and we'll want to follow suit."

Thales-manufactured in-flight entertainment is on offer as an optional feature for Bombardier's newest jet, the 100-seat CRJ1000. "The only one I have been able to [certify] so far is Thales. That's the only one we certified. It's an individually-mounted seat-back TV screen with audio/video on demand," says Blondin.

He notes, however, that this is not particularly popular with regional operators. "It's a fairly expensive system," he says. "It's heavy as well. So it cuts into your payload and, on a short flight anyway, you wouldn't be able to watch a movie; you could have short segments and so on. I don't know if the regional airlines really recognise the value on the shorter flights."