OnAir connectivity takes flight in Brazil with TAM

TAM Airlines has begun offering OnAir inflight mobile communications, based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, to passengers travelling aboard TAM’s Airbus A321 operating between Guarulhos, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre.

OnAir’s service enables passengers to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and access the internet through GPRS networks from their own GSM handsets.

“We are innovating once again to offer the best service. The demand of an onboard cellular was detected on research with our passengers who wish to be connected to work, family and friends while travelling,” declared Manoela Amaro, TAM’s marketing director.

TAM’s service allows as many as eight passengers to make and receive calls simultaneously on a flight with no limits on data and text messaging. Mobile phones will 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 ft). Passengers can use their smartphones onboard to access e-mails or surf the internet and usage will be charged directly by the mobile network provider to the passenger’s phone bill at rates set by his or her usual provider.

TAM Airlines received technical approval from the Brazilian National Agency of Civil Aviation (ANAC) as well as operational certification by the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) prior to installing OnAir’s services. The system has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and its use was recently approved by the European Union.

So far, TAM has already installed the system onboard an Airbus A321 equipped with 220 seats. The company plans to equip more aircraft on domestic routes with the technology starting in 2011.

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