Aircell is looking at offering a lightweight in-flight broadband solution for regional jets that would springboard off its new ATG 5000 high-speed Internet unit for the business aviation market.

The ATG 5000 delivers high-speed Internet service via Aircell's air-to-ground (ATG) network in the USA. It was designed specifically for business aircraft operators that do not require the integrated voice and narrowband data of the company's Axxess cabin system.

"The ATG 5000 is a small footprint, lighter and has fewer moving parts than mainline [Aircell's Gogo system] because it doesn't have a server for stored content. We're zeroing in on that product as a high potential for the regional market," Aircell executive vice-president, airlines John Happ revealed to ATI at the recent World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Palm Springs, California.

Gogo is being installed on mainline aircraft across the USA. Customers include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways, which all employ a vast amount of regional jets to feed their hubs.

Delta and its merger partner Northwest Airlines have committed to equip the entire combined mainline fleet with Gogo. Installations on Delta's mainline fleet will be finished in the fourth quarter, says Happ.

Delta is also in the process of building a business case for developing an information system that harnesses in-flight connectivity and can be incorporated into its airline operations. The carrier wants to view each of its aircraft as a node on its network.

Asked whether Delta intends to equip its regional aircraft with in-flight broadband, Aircell senior vice-president airline solutions Fran Phillips said: "We talked about that quite a bit with Delta. Right now, getting mainline [installed is a priority] but we'll both evaluate when to go forward with the regional fleet."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news