American Airlines says it is the first North American airline to begin testing a new in-flight streaming-video product from Aircell, which will allow customers to stream content such as movies and TV shows wirelessly from an in-flight library to their personal Wi-Fi-enabled devices during flight.
Partnering with Aircell, American Airlines is testing the new in-flight video system on two Boeing 767-200ERs in transcontinental service, and plans to begin customer testing early this summer. The airline’s goal is to roll out the new streaming-video product on Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft this fall, pending FAA certifications.
“American was the first North American airline to launch in-flight Wi-Fi, and today we again set a new industry standard as the first domestic airline to test in-flight streaming-video content,” notes Rob Friedman, American Airlines’ vice president – marketing.
In addition, American says it will work with Aircell to enhance onboard connectivity by expanding inflight Wi-Fi to its narrowbody fleet, including additional MD-80s and domestic Boeing 757-200s, in order to offer Wi-Fi on all of its domestic aircraft dedicated to flying within the continental United States.
The Wi-Fi expansion will include 93 of American’s domestic 757s used for routes within the continental United States, and up to 50 additional MD-80s. Installation will begin this summer and will continue through 2012. In addition, American continues to install Wi-Fi service on its entire fleet of 737-800s.
“By expanding Wi-Fi to the remainder of American’s domestic fleet and adding movies and TV to the already powerful Internet, American and Aircell continue to transform the inflight experience,” says Ash ElDifrawi, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Aircell.
American’s in-flight Wi-Fi and the new streaming-video product are powered by Aircell’s air-to-ground system, which uses three small antennas installed on the aircraft’s exterior and connects to Aircell’s nationwide, mobile-broadband network. Pricing for the new streaming video offering will be determined closer to launch and at the completion of customer testing, American says.
The streaming-video offering is American’s latest enhancement in a series of investments in mobile technology. American Airlines has already developed mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, NOOK and Blackberry (currently beginning Beta testing), as well as creating new mobile technologies for its operations. The airline says it understands the importance of connectivity and is strategically setting aside funding for enhancements, with the goal of keeping customers connected.