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WLAN in planes?

I have a tricky question that I hope you can answer. I want to find out as much as possible about a wireless LAN for a unique application. That is a wireless LAN for a number of aircraft. I realize the concept may be questionable but I can assure you that this is a serious question and I would appreciate any information about whether it has been done before (most likely military applications) or if not the feasibility of a wireless LAN for Aircraft. Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
I hadn't heard of this before, but did a little surfing to find out. Connexion by Boeing is using Cisco's mobile wireless solution to provide 802.11 connectivity throughout aircraft cabins. See also this press release and this CNET article. This collaboration between Lufthansa and Boeing recently obtained regulatory approval in Germany and the UK. Service demonstrations were conducted in 1Q03 on Lufthansa and British Airways flights. Japan Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) have also announced on-board wireless services for 2004.

Incidentally, wireless LANs (like 802.11) are easier to provide on a moving aircraft than wireless WANs because LAN stations do not need to continually re-associate with radio base stations on the ground. Both 802.11 access points and stations are moving at the same rate, on board the aircraft. Connecting the entire aircraft network to the Internet (for example, through satellite) still remains a challenge.

This was last published in July 2003

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