Brazilian airline TAM Airlines has expanded its contract with in-flight connectivity provider OnAir to equip 26 single-aisle aircraft this year.
The connected aircraft are expected to start flying in the second half of this year, said OnAir, a joint venture between Airbus and SITA,. TAM said it will set up a dedicated production line to install the system on the Airbus A319s, A320s and A321s at its Technological Center in São Carlos, Brazil.
"The high use of on-board connectivity by our passengers has encouraged us to invest further. We noted our clients want and need to be connected while flying. To that end, we are increasing the number of aircraft with the OnAir system to offer our customers a more complete flying experience," said Manoela Amaro, TAM Airlines' marketing officer.
The agreement expands upon a pilot project launched in October 2010, under which TAM operated one Airbus A321 with the OnAir system.
According to OnAir, the service allows as many as eight TAM passengers to make and receive calls simultaneously on a flight, once the aircraft reaches an altitude of 13,000 feet. Passengers can also use their Smartphones or BlackBerrys onboard to access e-mail or the Internet.
TAM Airlines received technical approval from the Brazilian National Agency of Civil Aviation (ANAC) and OnAir has received the authorisation to operate the service by the Brazilian National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel). The system has also been certified by EASA and its use was recently approved by the European Union.