Boeing is close to making the AeroMobile/Panasonic Avionics 'eXPhone' solution line-fit offerable to customers eager to offer in-flight mobile connectivity services to passengers.

An AeroMobile spokesman confirms that the eXPhone offered via Inmarsat's L-band satellite-based 'Classic' Data-3 aero service is expected to receive offerability status on Boeing aircraft in the very near term.

The eXPhone system will also be made available to Boeing customers later this year via Inmarsat's higher-bandwidth SwiftBroadband (SBB) service, he adds.

AeroMobile has already successfully retro-fitted its in-flight mobile connectivity system on several different airframe types spanning both Airbus and Boeing widebody aircraft. Emirates is fitting its entire fleet with AeroMobile connectivity.

Several carriers have also signed up for the system through AeroMobile partner Panasonic, which offers the hardware under the eXPhone brand as part of a suite of connectivity solutions.

V Australia is among the publicised customers for eXPhone. The eXPhone service will enable V Australia's passengers to send and receive SMS text messages via their mobile phones, and also use GPRS devices such as BlackBerrys, Palm Treos and mobile data-enabled PDAs exactly as they are used on the ground.

With line-fit offerable status, AeroMobile and Panasonic appear well-positioned to provide a robust response to Boeing's request for information (RFI) for a SwiftBroadband-supported satcom interface and onboard mobile telephony installation for the 787 twinjet.

The RFI, issued last year, indicates that Boeing's preferred solution for installation of an onboard mobile telephony system (OMTS) "is to have it integrated" with the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.

To date, Airbus has not given the green light for line-fit offerability to any mobile connectivity provider other than OnAir - its joint venture with SITA.

Boeing could not provide immediate comment.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news