The European Aviation Network promises to allow seamless connectivity for passengers on short and medium-haul flights throughout Europe. After successful tests in December, launch customer and British Airways parent company, IAG is already offering the highly anticipated service on a select number of BA flights.
The brain trust behind the European Aviation Network (EAN) broadband service says inflight connectivity will soon become considerably more dependable and a whole lot easier to access for European air travelers. Inmarsat Aviation and its partner Deutsche Telekom report that plans are on track to have 90 percent of the fleet operated by British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling parent company International Airline Group (IAG) equipped to offer EAN broadband this year.
In fact, according to multiple press reports the EAN service is already being offered on a limited number of British Airways short-haul flights. Using a network of ground-based antenna, the plane-to-ground system is designed to keep passengers connected without interruption throughout European airspace. Satellite connections will fill any gaps in the network. Satellite connectivity is, for obvious reasons, expected to remain the standard for long-haul international flights for the foreseeable future.
“Installation has already commenced on the British Airways fleet, with three aircraft fitted to date,” Inmarsat officials announced in a statement. “EAN is a step up for the aviation industry. The first of its kind, it combines purpose-built, state-of-the-art satellite coverage with a complementary 4G LTE ground network. This combined connectivity platform will see Inmarsat’s multi-beam S-band satellite link with approximately 300 Deutsche Telekom ground towers. Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an onboard network communicator.”
According to The Runway Girl Network’s Mary Kirby, IAG will initially pay for the service directly based on usage. It will be up to the airlines to decide how customers are charged for the service.
IAG signed an agreement to become the EAN-launch customer in 2017. The airline conglomerate says it has plans to equip more than 300 small and mid-sized narrow-body aircraft with EAN compatible equipment by the end of the year.