A European "e-enabled cabin" research programme is aiming to create new information services giving passengers greater control over their travel experience.

Funded under the European Union's Sixth Framework, the 36-month E-Cab project plans to develop methods of collecting, manipulating and providing information to passengers in real time.

The project's goal is to let passengers know when they are expected on the aircraft, where their luggage is and whether they have time at the airport for leisure or business activity.

Once on board the aircraft passengers could choose how they access the information, using their mobile phones, PDAs, laptops or the aircraft in-flight entertainment interface. They could also use the system to order meals when it suits them, and to provide audio and video on demand.

"Integration of on-board services with ground services will enable information to reach passengers in real time. For example, they will be able to check the gates for transfer flights before they reach the terminal, or they can order and pay by credit card for duty-free products before arriving at the airport," according to Fabrizio Cardinali, chief executive of E-Cab participant company Giunti Labs.

The Italian company is one of 31 partners in the project. The others include Airbus, EADS, Selex Communications, Siemens, Thales Avionics and the University of Bremen.

Source: Flight International