On September 1 Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes is launching a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform for mobile devices, which the carrier claims will the first of its kind in the world.
Using a package of technological tools, the company will offer its passengers free content from Brazil’s major media and communications groups. Passengers will access the platform through their own mobile communications devices or laptops.
While GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes says the new IFE platform will be the first of its kind for any airline, its description sounds similar to (but more comprehensive than) the Gogo streaming-video service for laptops which American Airlines has introduced on its Boeing 767-200s.
“Innovation is part of GOL’s DNA and we resorted to our usual creativity to develop an onboard entertainment option that will offer top-quality content at a low implementation cost,” says Claudia Pagnano, GOL’s vice-president of market and new businesses. “At first, access will take place via iPhone, iPad and touch iPod, as well as netbooks and notebooks with a Wi-Fi connection. In the future, the solution will also be available for other tablets and smartphones.”
The new onboard entertainment tool, named “GOL NO AR” (GOL on Air), will present a wide array of entertainment choices, including news items, magazine and newspaper articles, TV shows, sports, games and music channels.
Content for GOL’s new IFE platform will be automatically updated on landing at nine major Brazilian airports: São Paulo Congonhas, São Paulo Guarulhos, Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont, Rio de Janeiro Tom Jobim-Galeão, Belo Horizonte Confins, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Brasília, Belém and Fortaleza.
According to Ubiratan da Motta, GOL’s head of innovation and new businesses, experience gained in the new in-flight entertainment service’s initial months of operation will provide GOL with vital input regarding client behavior, helping ensure the continuing development and improvement of the service.
“We innovated on three fronts by creating a unique technological solution that is a first for the industry, as well as marking a major step forward in client relations,” says Motta.
GOL’s development team dedicated 14 months to developing the portal, which will be free of charge to passengers. GOL will gradually install the necessary equipment throughout its fleet, but the system is already in place on 35 aircraft.
Initially, GOL will offer the product on approximately 250 daily flights, primarily on the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo shuttle, Brazil’s busiest route. The airline plans to expand the service to around 380 daily flights by the end of the year.
“Installation is rapid and there is no need to interrupt normal operations as is common in the sector,” says Pagnano. “As a result, in addition to improving our clients’ travelling experience, the new solution will not interfere with flight performance as it does not increase aircraft weight nor, consequently, fuel consumption.”
The “GOL NO AR” portal represents another in a series of innovations recently launched by the company in Brazil. These include GOL’s Buy on Board service, which will be expanded to more than 400 daily flights by the end of 2011, and the operation of Boeing 737NGs equipped with the new Boeing Sky Interior.
Since it began operations, GOL has chalked up several important milestones in Brazil’s commercial-aviation industry. It was the first Brazilian carrier to focus on internet sales and eliminate the traditional paper ticket, reducing costs and streamlining clients’ travelling experience. GOL also says it was the first Brazilian airline to offer mobile-phone check-in and domestic flight check-in via iPhone.