TAM Airlines has expanded its contract with
OnAir, the in-flight connectivity service provider, to equip a
range of single-aisle aircraft this year.
Following a successful
pilot project, TAM will install OnAir's on-board connectivity
system in 26 aircrafts, allowing passengers to telephone, text,
and browse the Internet using their own BlackBerrys or
The connected aircraft are expected to start
flying in the second half of this year. TAM will set up a
dedicated production line to install the system on the Airbus
A319, A320, and A321 aircraft at its Technological Center in São
Carlos, State of São Paulo. All the aircraft operate domestic
routes and will fly to most of the 45 destinations covered by TAM
"The high use of on-board connectivity
by our passengers has encouraged us to invest further. We noted
our clients want and need to be connected while flying. To that
end, we are increasing the number of aircrafts with the OnAir
system to offer our customers a more complete flying experience",
said Manoela Amaro, TAM Airlines' Marketing Officer.
TAM is one of the first airlines in the Americas to offer on-board
mobile phone services. Since October 2010, one Airbus A321 -
operating between São Paulo/Guarulhos, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza,
Salvador and Porto Alegre - has been equipped with the OnAir
system. The service, based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, allows
passengers to connect to a cellular network from their personal
Globally, the system has already
proven itself on more than 150,000 flights to 356 cities,
connecting passengers in 83 countries with roaming agreement with
more than 250 mobile network operators.
connectivity has reached a tipping point," said Ian Dawkins, Chief
Executive Officer of OnAir. "It's now a must-have for airlines and
no longer just a nice-to-have."
The service allows
as many as eight TAM passengers to make and receive calls
simultaneously on a flight, with no limits on data and text messaging. Mobile phones work in exactly the same way as in
international roaming and can be activated as soon as the aircraft
reaches an altitude of 4,000 metres (13,000 feet). Passengers can
also use their Smartphones or BlackBerrys onboard to access e-mails
or surf the internet. Usage is charged directly by the mobile
network provider to the passenger's phone bill. Rates are set by
his or her usual provider.
"The more passengers
become aware that they can stay connected while in the air, the
greater our understanding of the services they demand and the
faster airlines are learning that connectivity is now an integral
part of the onboard experience," Dawkins added. "TAM's pilot
project underlines the phenomenal interest of passengers in the
service when given the opportunity to stay connected."
The system provides complete aircraft safety by preventing any
interference between mobile phone signals, mobile infrastructures
on the ground and the aircraft's commands. If necessary, the OnAir
system can be turned off by the aircraft's crew at any time.
During takeoff and landing passengers will be instructed to switch
off their electronic devices.
TAM Airlines received
technical approval from the Brazilian National Agency of Civil
Aviation (ANAC) and OnAir has received the authorisation to
operate the service by the Brazilian National Telecommunications
Agency (Anatel). The system has also been certified by the
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and its use was recently
approved by the European Union.
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