Bombardier intends to make in-flight connectivity baseline on its new 100/130-seat CSeries jetliner because passengers have come to expect such a solution, the Canadian airframer said.
"We believe everyone will want to be connected when they come on the aircraft. It's not going to be something that people will want to have as an option. It's pretty basic now that people want to be connected in real-time," Bombardier vice president CSeries programme Robert Dewar told ATI at the recent Paris airshow.
The CSeries, which is to enter into service in the latter part of 2013, will have a standard architecture "so we can have anything on it", said Dewar.
But Bombardier has not yet disclosed what connectivity pipe or pipes it will offer as baseline on the CSeries. Its current options include Inmarsat's L-band satellite-based SwiftBroadband service; Ku-band satellite offerings; and Gogo's air-to-ground service, which is available in the United States.
A ViaSat/LiveTV Ka-band-supported service in the United States is expected to become available in 2012, while a global Ka-band service from Inmarsat, called Global Xpress, holds a 2014/2015 timeline for coming on line.
Global Xpress-supported connectivity solutions, in particular, have sparked strong industry interest of late, as the Inmarsat aeronautical service will be available worldwide, and is expected to offer superfast speeds at a reasonable price.
Although Bombardier believes the future of in-flight entertainment is in connecting passengers' own personal electronic devices, the airframer plans to make embedded in-flight entertainment systems offerable in its CSeries catalogue.
Panasonic Avionics and Thales "are competing" for offerability, said Dewar, and indeed minimum configuration examples of the two manufacturers' next generation IFE systems have been installed in Bombardier's CSeries mock-up, which was showcased at the Paris air show.
Connectivity is native to both companies' next generation IFE systems, which use the Android operating system and are referred to as in-flight entertainment and connectivity platforms or "IFEC". Panasonic is currently focusing on a Ku solution with an upgrade path to Global Xpress Ka, while Thales is offering SBB in the near-term with an upgrade to Global Xpress.
Bombardier, meanwhile, has already selected Panasonic to provide the baseline cabin management (CMS) system for the CSeries. An optional feature will allow airlines to display flight information such as gate and connection information without investing in a full in-flight entertainment suite.