Over 4,500 commercial aircraft will be equipped with passenger connectivity systems by 2013, comprising a mixture of different technologies, a top in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) consultancy reports.

In its latest market outlook, a portion of which has been exclusively obtained by Flightglobal, UK-based IMDC says the 4,500 mark for connectivity-equipped aircraft will be achieved as airlines adopt air-to-ground (ATG)-based systems, Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband aeronautical service and Ku-band technologies.

"We remain up-beat about the future outlook for connectivity," says Wale Adepoju, chief executive of IMDC.

He adds, however, that the business case for airborne connectivity "will depend more and more on striking a balance between operational and passenger data needs".

IMDC, meanwhile, believes it will take almost three years for airline expenditure on IFE hardware to reach 2008 levels.

"The new growth is driven by a steady increase in deliveries of twin-aisle aircraft, including the [Boeing] 787, combined with pent up retrofit demand," says Adepoju.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news