This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the first time a mobile phone call was made from a plane during a flight.
On December 17 2007, working in partnership with Inmarsat, SITAONAIR’s first Mobile ONAIR inflight call was made onboard an Airbus A318, delivered over Inmarsat’s global voice and data service SwiftBroadband.
Over the past decade, more than 550 aircraft have been equipped with the service, covering commercial, VIP and governmental flights. It is now available across all aircraft types, from single-aisle to long-range. In 2017, 20 million passengers connected for voice, SMS and data transmission.
Looking back to the first flight, Veronique Blanc, Head of Engineering at SITAONAIR (then OnAir) in 2007, said: “The launch of Mobile ONAIR and the first in-flight phone call was very exciting for everyone involved.”
“Back then, even before the widespread use of smartphones, we knew what we were doing was hugely innovative, and paving the way for the future of inflight connectivity.”
Inmarsat’s partnership with SITAONAIR continues to evolve with developments such as the recent deployment of inflight mobile network services over Inmarsat’s high-speed broadband GX Aviation service. Inmarsat claims this “aviation industry first” means passengers and crew benefit from connectivity comparable to the home experience.
Frederik van Essen, Inmarsat Aviation Senior Vice President said: “Passenger expectations around inflight connectivity have dramatically evolved over the past decade. Inmarsat worked shoulder to shoulder with SITAONAIR ten years ago to pioneer the first ever inflight mobile phone call and data connectivity on an international flight.
“Today, we are together introducing unprecedented new capacities with GX Aviation, ensuring that airline passengers can browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with an onboard connectivity experience comparable to the mobile broadband services they may receive on the ground.”
Gregory Ouillon, Chief Technology Officer at SITAONAIR, said: “It’s remarkable to think that it was just ten years ago that SITAONAIR launched the world’s first inflight mobile service onboard an international flight.
“Ten years is a long time in aviation, however, and during this period the solution has evolved to become an essential component of the full cabin connectivity experience, allowing passengers to use their mobile phones as they would on the ground.”