As the Internet plays a bigger and bigger part of our daily lives the expectation to be able to take it with you wherever you go has also increased.
Inevitably having the use of this facility whilst flying is just a natural progression to this expectation and many airlines are now taking advantage of technology and market demand to generate an alternative revenue stream and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Offering Wi-Fi coverage onboard an aircraft is not quite as simple as setting up a Wi-Fi network at home. There are a number of regulatory issues to contend with. The equipment has to be specially certified for use on aircraft and the installation itself may require a supplemental type certificate (STC). There are also the coverage and capacity issues that you’ll get with any radio system and If the system isn’t correctly designed and properly dimensioned, any gain to the airline can very quickly diminish.
Finally when you’ve sorted out all of the above issues and more, you’ll need to consider how this new data traffic is going to be transferred from the aircraft to the ground and securely connected into the Internet.
Get the best from your investment
Cables and antenna systems used to distribute RF signals within an aircraft cabin can vary considerably between different aircraft types and operators.
If you already have components installed for one system, it is not necessarily going to be suitable when you upgrade or install additional components.
Leaky-Line type antennas used in many aircraft can be difficult to test properly and are easily damaged due to their fragile construction.
Even a system that is considered functional may not be working correctly and cause underlying issues that the airline operator is not even aware of.
OnBoardComs has extensive knowledge and hands on practical experience measuring the electrical and RF performance of Leaky-Line Antenna systems, as well as being able to accurately map real signal coverage levels radiated within the aircraft cabin environment.
The basics you need to know about GSM on aircraft
When first turned on and from time to time GSM Mobile phones transmit bursts of data at full power in an attempt to make themselves known to the mobile network they are trying to connect to. It is this location updating process that causes many of the concerns associated with possible interference to sensitive electronic equipment onboard aircraft.
The take-off and landing phases of a flight are when any interference to aircraft systems pose the greatest risk and for this reason no radio transmitting equipment is allowed to be used within the cabin environment during these more sensitive periods of flight. When the aircraft has finally reached its cruising altitude (cruise flight phase), any interference from an electronic device has a much lesser impact and can be more easily managed by the flight deck and cabin crew.
To allow GSM network equipment and mobile phones to be used onboard an aircraft, it is necessary to create a managed and controlled RF environment. This controlled environment prevents on-board mobile phones from seeing any external ground based networks, whilst also limiting the maximum transmitted power of all on-board mobile phones to their minimum power level. Within this controlled environment passengers can safely use their mobile phones with little possibility of causing any interference to aircraft systems.
Signal coverage Map
OnBoardComs are able map actual coverage of your onboard Wi-Fi networks, showing you the received signal level for every individual access point throughout the cabin, cockpit and crew rest areas.
This information can then be used to identify areas where coverage is poor or to determine overlapping coverage areas for capacity and system resilience planning.
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