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Service providers must meet our architectural requirements: Airbus

Airbus is "more than happy to support different service providers", says Airbus vice-president cabin design Jonathan Norris, but they need to meet the architectural requirements of the aircraft.

"At the moment we don't have applications from other service providers that meet these requirements," he says.

The architecture referenced by Norris is known as Airbus's Airline Network Architecture or ALNA, which provides the platform for airborne mobile telephony and internet services, and enables satcom communication capabilities for third-party applications such as electronic flight bag, in-flight entertainment and telemedicine.

Mobile phone 
 Service providers must meet the architectural requirements of the aircraft

The ALNA platform is available in a number of versions. GSM OnBoard - marketed as Mobile OnAir - allows virtually unlimited smart phone/PDA GPRS usage, and up to 16 passengers can make voice calls at the same time.

The ALNA v1 product, which uses Swift64, was developed for A380 entry into service as well as for the A330 and A340. It offers limited internet capabilities (webmail, webchat), among other services, and is certified and already flying with several airlines.

Still under development, ALNA v2 is a multi-programme, scaleable and modular platform that enables internet and an onboard mobile telephone system via Inmarsat's higher bandwidth SwiftBroadband aeronautical service. It is planned to be ready for deployment from the fourth quarter. Contracted customers include Air AsiaX, Egyptair, Hong Kong Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines and Oman Air.

Norris says the communications manager software embedded in ALNA v2 handles the prioritisation of all areas of communication except air traffic services. "It is essential for service providers to be integrated with ALNA v2 to optimise and organise the usage of the satellite bandwidth between all on-board applications with the appropriate prioritisation," he says.

ALNA v2 is a prerequisite for offering connectivity on A330, A340 and A380 aircraft, he says. With respect to the A350, Airbus has an on-going request for proposals process and cannot comment on the technical definition of requirements.

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