American Airlines’ Kansas City maintenance base has completed installation of AirCell’s air-to-ground (ATG)-based broadband connectivity solution on the first of 15 Boeing 767-200s slated to trial the system.

The Oneworld alliance member is now prepared to begin rigorous systems and beta testing pending certifications from the FAA.

An official trial is expected to begin as early as this quarter. Should the trial prove a success, American intends to roll out the ­service to its domestic fleet.

“There's a tremendous amount of intrigue and appeal for travelers to be able to utilize the Internet when traveling 30,000 feet above the United States at 500 miles per hour,” says American executive VP - marketing Dan Garton.

“Connectivity is important to our business customers and those who want to use their PDAs [personal digital assistants] and laptops for real-time, full-service, in-flight, broadband Internet, e-mail and VPN.”

The intention at American is to offer the connectivity solution to customers in all classes of service on the 767-200 aircraft for a fee, although complimentary access to American’s web site will be offered.

Customers access the broadband signal using their own Wi-Fi enabled devices, which communicate directly with wireless access points that are distributed evenly throughout the aircraft cabin ceiling.

AirCell, which owns the 3MHz broadband ATG license, “is going to block VOIP [voice over internet protocol] and also very high bandwidth utilisation applications so that there is a DSL-like experience across the customer base," American manager of in-flight communications and technology Doug Backelin recently told ATI.

American is one of several US operators readying to offer airborne connectivity services. Virgin America is working with AirCell to equip its entire Airbus A320 family fleet with the broadband system this year.

JetBlue Airways is testing a limited connectivity offering, and Frontier Airlines is eyeing a similar solution.

Alaska Airlines recently agreed to trial US firm Row 44’s Ku-band-based solution. And Southwest Airlines has confirmed that in-flight connectivity tests will be carried out in the near-term. The low-cost carrier has not yet announced a provider.