Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has become the first airline to commit to a wireless trial of Tenzing's in-flight e-mail and internet services, with plans to launch a one-aircraft evaluation from the third quarter of this year.

SAS is the second airline to trial Tenzing's services. It follows Air Canada, which launched a trial of Tenzing services on five Boeing 767s earlier this month (Flight International, 23-29 January), but the European carrier will be the first to use a wireless solution for its in-flight e-mail needs.

The SAS installation, on a single Boeing 767, will include a local area network based on Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers 802.11b wireless network standards, developed in conjunction with SAS' wireless services partner Telia Mobile. Air Canada's services are provided via the Bell Mobility communication system installed in the handset at each seat.

The SAS trial will allow passengers to send and receive e-mail on their laptops and have access to internet pages via an internet server onboard the aircraft.

The airline is also working with Tenzing and Telia to allow passengers access to their company's e-mail system through firewalls.

SAS has been at the forefront of exploring wireless opportunities. The carrier's passengers already have access to wireless communications in SAS lounges through the Telia HomeRun service. There are plans to extend the service to all SAS lounges this year, says Jan Olson, head of SAS products and service development.

A roaming agreement provides Tenzing Global subscribers and Telia Mobile HomeRun access to each other's wireless network.

Seattle-based Tenzing now has seven airlines signed up for trials. In addition to SAS and Air Canada, Singapore Airlines (SIA) is the only other named trial airline.

A one-aircraft trial with SIA is scheduled to start before the end of this quarter, says Laura Alikpala, Tenzing's director of marketing.

Cathay Pacific, the only airline with Tenzing service commitment, is due to have its first aircraft equipped in April. The Hong Kong-based airline is outfitting 62 aircraft for Tenzing service.

As several e-mail/internet products are now offered by various service providers, most airlines are moving cautiously, trialling products before making full commitments.

Source: Flight International