The in-cabin technology of the new Qantas’ Airbus A380, due to take-off in Australia from August 2008, caters for gadget gurus with features such as PC power and Internet access. For flight crews there is wireless communication and PDA connectivity for inflight management.

A380 passengers will have wireless connectivity, in-seat access to email and the Internet, telephone and SMS, with access to USB, RJ45 ports and PC power whether flying in Qantas economy, new premium economy, business or first classes.

According to Qantas executive general manager, John Borghetti: “We have gone beyond the traditional movie and audio options…Customers in all classes will also be able to stay connected with in seat email and internet access or using their personal laptops to connect to a wireless network”.

Qantas unveiled the changes as part of its rebranding launch, with a somewhat stretched, rotated version of its original ‘flying kangaroo’ icon replacing the original image which has undergone a number of rebirths since its 1944 inception. Borghetti explained the change was made for reasons of both practicality and design innovation, with the new logo fitting better on the A380’s re-shaped tail-plane.

The arrival of the A380 will also herald a completely revamped in-flight entertainment system (IFE). Along with the usual movie and music options, the carrier has partnered with LonelyPlanet and Deloitte to deliver destination information and access to on-board training courses.

Passengers across classes will have access to the LonelyPlanet destination and arrival guides and  Deloitte Leadership Academy, along with online duty free shopping, language tutorials, audio books and PC style games.

For economy and premium economy passengers, these can be viewed on a 10.6 inch LCD screen, while those flying business class can view a 12.1 inch screen and first class get a 17 inch LCD. Business and first-class also have access to noise cancelling headsets.

In creating and testing the wireless system to allow the use of appropriate communication devices inflight without compromising the ground network, Qantas partnered with Telstra, Panasonic Avionics Corporation and AeroMobile in August last year, having conducted a three month testing period onboard a Boeing 767 aircraft on Australian domestic routes.

Qantas Group General Manager of Customer Product and Services, Lesley Grant, described the wireless environment as a “single GSM country in the sky, with passengers using the service as they do now, when overseas”.

According to Grant, passengers are not the only ones able to hook into wireless devices while inflight, with Qantas customer service managers aboard the A380 able to communicate with their cabin crew and receive passenger orders via wireless BlackBerry and similar devices.

Airbus A380 features:
* Wide screen monitors in all cabins with digital picture and sound quality;
* Audio and video on demand with over 100 on demand movies, 350 television selections, 500 audio CDs, 30 PC style games, as well as a selection of audio books and radio channels;
* Lonely Planet destination and arrival guides;
* Language tutorials;
* Deloitte Leadership Academy;
* Online duty free shopping;
* Moving maps, text news and weather;
* An intuitive state-of-the-art graphic user interface allowing customers to easily navigate through entertainment options or use the in-seat communications;
* Wireless connectivity throughout the aircraft;
* In-seat access to email and the internet, telephone and SMS;
* USB and RJ45 ports as well as PC power for all seats; and
* An external camera giving a pilot’s eye view of take-off, landing and cruising.

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