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9/14/2006
02:50 PM
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In-Flight Communications System On Tap For Boeing Aircraft

After Boeing decided to shut down its Connexion service, the airline has awarded a contract to a Wisconsin company for hardware adaptation, engineering development, and various U.S. governmental approval processes.

ECS, a Wisconsin company, will develop a retrofit system that will enable passengers on Boeing 737 aircraft to utilize in-flight telephony in a move that helps fill the void left after Boeing decided to shut down its 6-year-old Connexion service.

ECS's contract covers hardware adaptation, engineering development and various U.S. governmental approval processes. It was announced at a meeting of the World Airline Entertainment Association in Miami.

The contract was awarded in an RFP contest issued by Europe's Airbus. Airbus partner OnAir, which is deploying its in-flight mobile phone service in Europe, announced the win by ECS. In Europe, the Mobile OnAir system is scheduled to be installed on Ryanair's entire fleet of 250 Boeing aircraft in 2007 in an indication that Boeing equipment is not entirely alien to the European suppliers.

"Our in-depth knowledge of the Mobile OnAir system will help us develop a Boeing retrofit solution that retains as much commonality as possible with the Airbus implementation, to make it very maintenance-friendly for airlines." ECS president Paul Smyczek said in a statement.

Installation of the retrofit solution for Boeing aircraft is expected to get underway in mid-2007, officials said.

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