Airbus says that good, reliable and seamless broadband inflight connectivity is an essential component of its new “Airspace” passenger experience concept.
Ingo Wuggetzer, Vice President, Cabin Marketing at Airbus, said that 74 airlines now offer connectivity in 2016, with 55-65% of passengers looking at Wi-Fi availability as a key criterion when choosing an airline.
“Passengers now want, and even need, inflight connectivity,” Wuggetzer said. “Whereas a few years ago it wasn’t one of their criteria at all.
“This is why the Airbus A350 XWB was designed as a ‘digitally native’ aircraft from the outset with 100% inflight connectivity availability.”
Wuggetzer added that more than 16,500 aircraft are predicted to be equipped with connectivity by 2025 and in the future passengers will find it a fast, seamless and easy process to get connected when onboard.
“They will be connected from door to door and at every stage in their journey,” he said. “Moreover, they will be able to use their smartphone or other PED to control the aircraft’s IFE, move their seat or adjust the cabin lighting.
“Ancillary revenues are a big part of an airline’s revenue stream and inflight connectivity may also have a huge part to play in helping to generate income.
He said that the first flight test of Airbus’s high-bandwidth connectivity demonstrator A330 aircraft had taken place on 19th October.
The platform will soon allow airline customers to choose from a range of new high-throughput satellite technologies, including Ka-Band, L-band (SwiftBroadband) and Ku-Band.
The company has worked with Zodiac and Inmarsat to ensure the latter’s Global Express (or GX Aviation) system would be available as line-fit on the Airbus A320, A330 and A380 by 2017. Then it wants to concentrate on the retrofit market.
“There will be 100% market penetration of smartphones among millennials in the next two to three years,” Wuggetzer said. “These are the passengers of tomorrow, and they will demand broadband inflight connectivity, which is why we must be able to deliver it.”