Emirates And AeroMobile Set The Tone After Ringing The Changes For Passengers


Friday, March 20, 2009 – Cutting-edge communications for Emirates passengers reached a new milestone today with the first birthday of its world-beating in-flight mobile service with AeroMobile.

History was made a year ago today when the first authorised call on a commercial flight was made on flight EK751, flying from Dubai to Casablanca on March 20th 2008.

Since then, 160,170 passengers have switched on their mobile phone on an Emirates flight to take advantage of the ability to make and receive calls and text messages – more than 50,000 in the last three months alone as the service becomes more widely available and increasingly popular.

The AeroMobile system, which allows passengers to safely make and receive calls during flights, has now been fitted on a total of 32 Emirates aircraft, making it available on one-in-four of Emirates’ services. Emirates Engineering are installing the AeroMobile system on the rest of the fleet, with one aircraft being equipped every ten days or so.

Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Vice President, Passenger Communications and Visual Services, said: “Using this innovative service has now become second nature to our passengers who love the convenience of being able to stay in touch when they choose to.

“It has proved as popular with passengers on all flights to all destinations, not just businessmen and women but also leisure travellers. It’s ideal for just wanting to call home or make contact with family on birthdays or anniversaries.

“Typically about a third of our passengers are switching on their phones onboard AeroMobile-equipped aircraft, so it’s clearly a popular service. We do see many though, that switch on their phone but don’t necessarily use it, showing that they like the idea of being contactable. It’s clear that passengers prefer using their own phone which they are familiar with, rather than the seatback phone.

“The early concerns about potential impact on other passengers have proved, as expected, to be unfounded. We very rarely see multiple calls at the same time, and most calls are shorter than a couple of minutes. Texting using sms has been very popular. The feedback from our customers has been full of enthusiasm.”

The AeroMobile service is being rolled out across the Emirates fleet and is currently operating on five aircraft types, the Boeing 777-200s and 777-300s, plus the Airbus A340-300, A340-500 and A330-200. It is due to be installed on the Boeing 777-300ER from May.

AeroMobile CEO Bjorn-Taale Sandberg said: “With our service firmly established on an increasing number of Emirates’ aircraft, the usage level amongst passengers has increased at a faster pace.

“We’re particularly proud of the quality of the voice service and overall reliability. The comment we most often hear is that people receiving calls from our customers in-flight can’t believe they are calling from 35,000 feet.

“We are looking forward to more growth and rising user numbers throughout 2009 to cement a great first year.”

About AeroMobile

AeroMobile Limited is a UK-based company owned by Telenor ASA and Arinc. It has been pursuing the objective of allowing the safe use of passengers own mobile phones and PDAs since 2003 in response to market demands.

In September 2008, AeroMobile won the “Best Achievement in Technology 2008” award from the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA).

Prior to the launch of the Emirates service, mobile phone use in aircraft has only been allowed in limited, short-term trials which did not support voice calls.

AeroMobile is the first in-flight mobile technology to be commercially available and first flew in June 2005 on Boeing’s 777-200LR ‘Worldliner’ demonstrator aircraft.  In April 2007, AeroMobile implemented a trial service on domestic flights within Australia. This evaluation project, supporting GSM text messaging and GPRS data services, continued until January 2008 having operated on over 1,000 flights.

AeroMobile is teamed with Panasonic Avionics Corporation, the Panasonic’s market-leading in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems provider, to offer the AeroMobile aircraft technology under the eXPhone brand as an integral part of Panasonic’s IFE systems. The AeroMobile system uses the existing Inmarsat satellite communications systems installed on all Emirates aircraft. These systems will be upgraded at the earliest opportunity to Inmarsat’s latest SwiftBroadband service providing further features and capabilities such as GPRS mobile data services.

More information may be found at www.aeromobile.net

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