The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) and Lufthansa Technik have received industry-leading aircraft certifications from the German aviation authorities (LBA) and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that will enable the use of airborne wireless applications on select commercial flights using the Connexion by Boeing mobile information service. The groundbreaking rulings pave the way for passengers to use their own IEEE 802.11b Wi-Fi devices within the airline cabin environment.
"These collaborative authorizations for wireless communications in the cabin are a significant breakthrough for British Airways and Lufthansa and something that we've worked extremely hard to obtain," said Connexion by Boeing Vice President of Global Network Sales Stan Deal. "Our technical teams have worked diligently to demonstrate that wireless applications comply with rigorous aviation standards and also to demonstrate the value-added benefits that wireless connectivity can bring to air travel worldwide."
Receipt of the wireless authorizations is the result of unprecedented industry cooperation between Lufthansa German Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa Technik, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Connexion by Boeing. As the certification applicant, Lufthansa Technik designed the onboard Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) and developed the certification plan. Working together, Connexion by Boeing and Boeing Commercial Airplanes developed a supporting plan for testing and analyses and provided technical guidance to resolve all certification review items levied by the certification authorities.
Airline passengers will now have the ability to use their own wireless-enabled laptop or personal electronic devices (PEDs) for real-time, high-speed access to the full richness of the Internet including two-way e-mail, virtual private network access and streaming audio and video content, by accessing an open wireless local area network onboard a 747-400 airliner equipped with the Connexion by Boeing service.
The evolution of Wi-Fi technology into commercial airliners is expected to provide additional simplicity to the overall cabin environment and will help reduce wires associated with using a traditional hard-wired Ethernet connection. Airline operations also are expected to benefit through potential customer service applications, enhanced crew communications and the reduction in overall cabin weight.
To support the service certification, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Connexion by Boeing conducted extensive laboratory testing of wireless PEDs to demonstrate compliance with stringent aviation standards. Connexion by Boeing also completed human health analyses, radio frequency propagation and field strength analyses and airplane electromagnetic susceptibility tests and analyses. Connexion One, a flying laboratory used to demonstrate overall system capability and to certify portions of the on-board hardware, systems and procedures, has flown a wireless network for the past two years under an experimental license approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Connexion by Boeing team has worked closely with the global airlines and with leading mobile technology industry leaders such as Intel and others on the evolution of Wi-Fi technologies. A wireless laboratory established in Irvine, Calif., is used to study and monitor new technologies, including the 802.11 standards, to ensure that aircraft and passenger safety, and the security and integrity of transmitted data remain the highest priority.
With the CAA and LBA wireless approvals, Boeing continues to build momentum toward the full-scale introduction of the Connexion by Boeing service in early 2004. "We continue to work closely with the aviation and government agencies around the world to demonstrate compliance with existing standards and to gain the necessary approvals to move forward," said Connexion by Boeing Director of Programs and Services Donna Halker. "It is extremely pleasing to have the CAA and LBA authorities working with us to establish this important precedent. They've contributed to the achievement of a monumental leap forward in aviation passenger services by helping us bring wireless broadband connectivity to the skies."
Connexion by Boeing is the mobile information services provider bringing high-speed Internet, data and entertainment connectivity to aircraft in flight. The service is available today to the executive services market in the U.S., including operators of private and government aircraft. The Connexion by Boeing team recently announced a definitive service agreement with Lufthansa to outfit its fleet of 80 long-haul aircraft with the innovative service beginning in early 2004, and a contract with Lufthansa Technik to handle the actual fleet installation. In addition to successful service demonstrations with Lufthansa and British Airways, both Japan Airlines and SAS have announced their intent to install the Connexion by Boeing service on of their long-range aircraft. For additional information, visit the Connexion by Boeing web site at www.boeing.com/connexion.