In-flight entertainment was an issue at last month's Paris air show for the first time, with lead suppliers Boeing and Tenzing announcing customers and demonstrating broadband and narrowband in-flight internet and e-mail services.

Boeing signed Lufthansa as the first non-US customer for its broadband Connexion services. Unlike launch customers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, Lufthansa will not be an equity partner in Connexion. Instead it has a standard service agreement, details of which have not been disclosed.

Lufthansa will equip a Boeing 747-200 next year to conduct a three-month trial to tailor the service offering. Pending a successful trial, 80 long-range aircraft will be equipped. The e-mail and internet services, accessed by passenger laptops, will primarily be tested on routes across the North Atlantic, where Boeing will lease 13 satellite transponders to provide the services next year, says Scott Carson, Connexion by Boeing president.

Meanwhile, narrowband e-mail/ internet specialist Tenzing added three fleetwide contracts to its orderbook. The Seattle-based company, in which Airbus took a 30% stake in June, announced Varig and Finnair as new customers, while trial customer Air Canada committed to a fleet fit. Air Canada has been trialling Tenzing services on five aircraft for six months. Varig will start equipping its fleet, starting with the Boeing 777s, in the fourth quarter of next year, while Finnair will outfit its entire fleet with a wireless system from the fourth quarter this year with four Boeing MD-11s to be equipped initially followed by 36 Airbus A320s in 2002.

Tenzing now has firm customers in Asia, Europe, North and South America following earlier commitments from Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The service supplier also has an unnamed Asian customer and expects to announce three more carriers by September, says Alan Pellegrini, president and chief operating officer.

Although Tenzing is focusing on narrowband services, delivered by Inmarsat satellites, the company demonstrated its broadband solution at Paris. The Passenger Internet Access System demonstration used a teleport in Switzerland to transmit an 8mgbit/s data stream over the Anatolia ku-band satellite.

BLOB Internet television company Kanakaris Wireless is planning to capitalise on in-flight internet developments by offering full-length films and television programming to airline passengers via the internet. The Californian company says it has beta tested film and live television wireless delivery. Programming content for its Kanakaris Wireless Independent Network would be provided via its CinemaPOP.com and AK.TV website channels, using the company's CinemaWEAR encoding technology. Revenue would come from sponsorship of the television channels and fees from the net-to-air delivery of corporate content, says Robert Wood, Kanakaris chief technology officer.

Source: Flight International