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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 10:45 GMT
Airspace meets cyberspace
Aircraft cabin, BBC
Check your office e-mails from 10,000 metres
Soon you could be getting faster net access on the plane to your holiday destination than you can at home.

Aircraft maker Boeing is staging trials of technology that will give passengers high-speed net access during their flight.

The service will let passengers on long-haul flights browse the web with their own handhelds and laptops or let business travellers stay in touch with the office.

Already three airlines, including British Airways, have signed up for the trials.

Costly connection

In early 2003 British Airways and Lufthansa are due to introduce the high-speed net access trials on trans-Atlantic routes.

In May a Lufthansa 747 D-ABTE was the setting for the first sending of an e-mail from a plane back to the ground via the high-speed net service.

Lufthansa livery, AP
Lufthansa planning free net access
The mail was sent while the aircraft was over the North Atlantic cruising at an altitude of 10,668 metres (35,000 feet) during a routine flight from Frankfurt to Washington, DC.

Japan Airlines is planning to offer a similar service on 10 of its routes from Asia to Europe and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) is planning to put the net system on 11 of its aircraft.

The technology to support the in-flight system has been developed a Connexion by Boeing, a subsidiary of the giant aircraft company.

In November Connexion won permission from European regulators to broadcast data back and forth from aircraft.

The Connexion system will install data networks throughout the aircraft and let people link to them using network cards or wireless links.

Almost half of all travellers would be willing to pay for in-flight net and e-mail access according to a study by the International Air Transport Association.

Some travellers would pay up $20 or more for net access on long haul flights.

Lufthansa is planning to offer its net access for free but BA is expected to charge passengers about 20 for the service.

See also:

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14 Jun 02 | Business
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