Switzerland’s Geneva-based OnAir has been recognised as one of Europe’s most creative companies by CNBC Business magazine. CNBC Business singled out the company’s pioneering work for inflight mobile services.
Founded in 2005 as a joint venture between IT solutions / communications services provider SITA and Airbus, OnAir enables airline and VIP aircraft passengers to stay in touch while travelling. Currently, OnAir technologies are in operation on more than120’000 flights to 300 cities, connecting passengers from 75 countries.
The use of mobiles phones and Wi-Fi Internet access inflight had previously been available; however, OnAir is able to offer customers both technologies simultaneously – a major breakthrough given the growing popularity of smart phones.
Each OnAir-equipped aircraft carries what is effectively a Wi-Fi "hotspot" and a miniature GSM base station. These are connected to the ground via satellite link, creating a "pipe" that carries digital information. The ground station then sends information into the normal GSM and Internet ground networks.
This new technology shares the connection provided by the data link with cockpit traffic, while keeping a single SATCOM antenna on the aircraft – an arrangement that required certification. The technology offers airlines the promise of significant operational gains and efficiencies – as well as the ability for passengers to access a range of services not previously accessible.
"This is a well deserved acknowledgement of OnAir’s innovative services for airlines," said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. "But above all, it is proof of our company’s capacity to develop and deliver products that support the transportation industry."
Ian Dawkins added that his team is delighted the company was named on CNBC Business’ list, particularly since the ranking followed hard on the heels of Emirates’ recent agreement to install OnAir inflight passenger communications services on all 90 of its new A380s.
As well as forging ahead in the air transport sector, OnAir expanded into the maritime sector this year, enabling cruise ship passengers to stay connected as they travel.