Business travellers will be pleased to hear that in-flight internet access is shortly to become a reality. Project team members of German airline Lufthansa and Connexion, a Boeing subsidiary, have transmitted the world’s first email via broadband internet connection from a scheduled airliner.
The Lufthansa Boeing 747-400, christened Sachsen-Anhalt, was on a flight from Frankfurt to Washington. A standard laptop was connected with the Lufthansa intranet via a secure internet connection (Virtual Private Network).
Several further, more sophisticated test runs are planned for the coming weeks in order to ensure a dependable operation. The public test for all passengers of the Sachsen-Anhalt starts 15 January, 2003. For three months all passengers will be able to use Lufthansa FlyNet (the working title of the new service) for free with their own laptops or loan equipment available on board. The jet runs on a scheduled service between Frankfurt and Washington with flight numbers LH 418 and LH 419.
The prospect of in-flight internet access ought to be welcome news to frequent business travellers. At present, the use of telecommunications equipment such as mobile phones is banned from most scheduled flights. This effectively leaves travellers without access to email and the web for the duration of a flight.
By Dick O’Brien