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February 01, 2011

TAM Airlines Expanding InFlight Connectivity to Multiple Aircrafts

By Jamie Epstein, TMCnet Web Editor

TAM Airlines has recently re-worked its contract with OnAir, an Inflight Connectivity provider. Both companies will now work together to facilitate all different types of carriers this year with an option for Inflight Connectivity , a press release stated. Originally starting as a pilot project, TAM will hook up OnAir's on-board connectivity system in 26 aircrafts, to start. This new system will enable passengers to make calls, text, and tool the Internet using multiple types of Smartphones or Blackberry’s.

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TAM Airlines currently operates direct flights to 45 cities in Brazil, and 18 cities in South America, the United States, and Europe. TAM is the first airline in the United States that has technology advanced enough to be able to offer these on-board mobile phone services. Since October 2010, Airbus A321, has been connected to the OnAir system. The service, based on Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, allows passengers to connect to a cellular network from their personal GSM handsets, a release stated.

 Although relatively new, this system has already shown what abilities it has, being used on over 150,000 flights to 356 cities, on a global scale.

Expecting to begin flying in the early half of the year, TAM will be installing  the OnAir system on various plane models ,including the  Airbus A319, A320, and A321 aircraft . The installation process will take place at the company’s Technological Center, located in São Carlos, Brazil. These revamped aircrafts will fly to almost all of the 45 domestic  locations TAM currently flies to.

"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 aircrafts with the OnAir system to offer our customers a more complete flying experience", said Manoela Amaro, TAM Airlines' Marketing Officer, in a release.

This new service gives up to eight TAM passengers the ability to take and receive calls throughout any given flight. There are currently no limits to the amount of data or texts that can be received during the duration of the travel time. Mobile phones will work just like they do when using an  in international roaming option.

 "The more passengers become aware that they can stay connected while in the air, the greater our understanding of the services they demand and the faster airlines are learning that connectivity is now an integral part of the onboard experience”, Ian Dawkins, Chief Executive Officer of OnAir, stated in a release. "TAM's pilot project underlines the phenomenal interest of passengers in the service when given the opportunity to stay connected."

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Jamie Epstein is a TMCnet Web Editor. Previously she interned at News 12 Long Island as a reporter's assistant. After working as an administrative assistant for a year, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web editor for TMCnet. Jamie grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcasting from Five Towns College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein