Panasonic Avionics expects to announce the identities of more customers for its Ku-band satellite-based connectivity solution eXConnect within the next two months, after revealing Lufthansa as launch customer for the service.

"We will probably be announcing three or four more airline contracts by the end of this year."

Panasonic vice-president, global communications services David Bruner told ATI in an interview this morning.

Panasonic's partnership with Lufthansa is also helping to convince other top-tier carriers to take the leap, and offer eXConnect.

"I can't even tell you the number of airlines that were sitting on the fence, saying 'I know we need to do this, I want to do this', but were not willing to pull the trigger. Since the Lufthansa story broke, the change in attitude by high-profile airlines has been tremendous," says Bruner.

Lufthansa's branded 'FlyNet' service, previously supported by now-commerically-defunct Connexion by Boeing, will be reignited by Panasonic on the lion's share of 70 aircraft already fitted with Connexion hardware from around the middle of 2010.

The carrier's full long-haul fleet, up to 100 aircraft, should be offering the service by the end of 2011. Mobile telephony service, courtesy of Panasonic's partnership with AeroMobile, is also included.

Ku-band connectivity is not available all over the world, although Bruner says 98% of all airline flight hours are covered by the satellite partnerships it has in place. "The very southern Indian ocean is one area [without coverage] but we have a plan for that in the next 24 months," he says.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news