in brief Qantas passengers will soon be able to surf the Web in-flight, following the airline's decision to adopt a range of aircraft with connectivity for the airborne business traveller.
Qantas announced this week that it will be taking delivery of a fleet of A380s from August next year that the company claims will sport a "next generation in-flight entertainment system" from Panasonic.
Travellers using the planes will be able to connect up their own laptops to the Internet by the plane's on-board Wi-Fi network, charge it up using an in-seat plug socket to power up the PC or connect up devices to their local USB port.
Users without their own hardware will be able to get access to e-mail and the Internet, as well as phone and SMS, from their in-flight entertainment system, Qantas said.
Previous attempts to introduce Internet access to the aviation industry have not met with much success. Last year Boeing said it was to close Connexion by Boeing, its six-year project which offered airline passengers access to the Internet over satellite links. Although many of Connexion's customers said they would prefer to continue the Wi-Fi service after the company's demise, no buyer was found.
Like many other airlines, Qantas has also looked to mobile connectivity to generate revenue: the carrier recently got the thumbs up from the ACMA for a limited evaluation of GSM mobile phones and GPRS devices, but only for one commercial aircraft.