Virgin trials passenger internet system on transatlantic flights

Three Virgin Atlantic A330s are set to trial a passenger connectivity solution powered by SwiftBroadband.

Arinc's Cabin Connect provides a wireless internet “hotspot” in the cabin. The installation includes the server and four wireless access points.

The system allows the airline's passengers to access the internet directly from their own personal devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Flight information
As well as browsing and email capability, the system can also be set up to provide news, sport, and weather updates, plus useful connecting flight and arrival information.

The first A330 was outfitted with Cabin Connect in January. All three A330s will go live with the system on a 12-month trial by May on Virgin's transatlantic flights.

Speaking at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Lee Costin, director of Arinc's satellite solutions and cabin services, explained that the system uses the aircraft's existing Cobham HGA 7001 antenna, Honeywell MCS7200 terminal and a single-channel Inmarsat SwiftBroadband connection.

These have previously only been used on the aircraft for satellite operations from the cockpit.

“A single 432kbps SwiftBroadband channel is sufficient for most passengers' needs, but multi-channel SwiftBroadband is also an option,” Lee said.