Air France has finally set a date for the test of its in-flight mobile services, including voice: A six-month trial of mobile calling, texting, and other data services will begin in July . The carrier had long planned in partnership with OnAir--a venture of Airbus and airline-owned systems integrator SITA--to equip a single Airbus A318 for a trial period. During the first three months, text and data services will be available; voice will be added during the next three months. Calls should cost $2.30 to $2.50, as previously expected; text services haven't yet been priced.
The delay is described as one involving certification of the on-board equipment. In Europe, there are still local aviation authorities, such as the CAA in Britain, and approval of airworthiness can come from one of the these agencies and then be picked up by others without necessarily requiring additional testing.
Ryanair has now delayed the start of its plans to add calling and texting to its entire fleet to commence trials in third quarter, and a full launch by the end of the year. BMI, an early announced partner of OnAir, told silicon.com that it hopes to start service sometime this year. TAP of Portugal made no statement in this article.
Part of the delay in OnAir's launch plans had to do with their basing their service on Inmarsat's fourth-generation (4G) satellite network. Inmarsat's satellites launched much later than planned, and trans-Pacific service is still not active.