Thousands of Lufthansa passengers have taken advantage of the new opportunity to pioneer inflight surfing - aboard the world's first scheduled aircraft with broadband Internet access. Lufthansa has been collaborating with Connexion by Boeing on the project for almost two years. The response to FlyNet has been extremely positive. "It was fast and it got me exactly where I wanted to be - in our corporate Intranet. It was simply amazing and the people around me were equally enthusiastic," says Dr. Michael Kassner, Senior Vice President Siemens AG, describing his experience of using the Lufthansa FlyNet system.
During the three-month test phase, which began in mid-January, the Boeing 747-400 "Sachsen Anhalt" has been operating solely between Frankfurt and Washington. In the last few days of the trial period, Lufthansa also received the approval of the Federal Aviation Office for the use of wireless access from passengers’ laptop computers to the Internet (Wireless LAN technology) and became the first airline to make this service available to its passengers. Until then the usage of Wireless LAN was possible with loan laptops provided on board only. On Good Friday, 18 April, the last test flight offering real-time Internet connectivity - flight LH 419 from Washington - touched down punctually at 7:35 in Frankfurt. The preliminary evaluation of the three-month trial shows that an average of between 50 and 80 passengers per flight used the new online connection simultaneously.
Users describe the bandwidth of the FlyNet systems as very satisfactory. Despite the huge distance from the satellites, which are positioned at an altitude of 36,000 kilometres, passengers experienced Internet connectivity at speeds between ISDN and DSL. In all, 95 per cent of users rated the FlyNet offer as "good to excellent".
Lufthansa aims to gradually introduce FlyNet on all its Boeing 747-400, Airbus A330 and A340 long-range aircraft from mid 2004 onwards. A detailed analysis of all the test results will allow Lufthansa to tailor the content and specifications of the future FlyNet offer on board to customer requirements. Meanwhile the airline is equipping its long-haul fleet with the necessary infrastructure.
In the months ahead Connexion by Boeing will continue to expand the satellite and ground network that will support the rollout of the service to Lufthansa's major long-haul routes, and complete the development of a new generation of satellite antennas that will provide a broader range of performance capabilities.