Panasonic Avionics Corporation pulled off a wireless first this week by connecting passengers flying over five continents via Twitter in the first ever global in-flight Tweetathon.
The conversation, hashtagged #High5Live, took place between 10:00 and 15:00 CET on 9 April 2013, as passengers on five aircraft flying over five continents charted their journeys and interacted with earthbound Twitter users 35,000 feet below.
Passengers used Twitter to compare in-flight menus, share the results of live sports matches, plan itineraries and compete for the most Twitter mentions, using mobiles and tablets to access high-speed wireless broadband available via Panasonic’s eXConnect technology.
They also tweeted pictures of passengers and cabin crew aboard the flights, as well as stunning views from the aircraft over Greenland, Canada and the Amazon.
Travellers with American Airlines, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, and Aer Lingus, took part in the global exchange, sustaining a conversation spanning over five hours, 650 tweets and seven different languages. In total, the Tweetathon had an aggregated reach of over 850,000 Twitter users, resulting in almost 4 million impressions.
Several enterprising Twitter followers used flight tracking website FlightRadar to view the progress of the five aircraft whilst talking to passengers on board in real time.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation hosted the Tweetathon on the opening day of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The tweets were live-streamed to the show’s 8,000 attendees via big screens, prompting them to join in the conversation from the show floor.
David Bruner, Panasonic’s Vice President of Global Communications, said: ‘In-flight Wi-Fi has come of age, and today’s global Tweetathon demonstrates what is possible. This marks a tipping point in global communications where almost anything that can be done online on the ground is now possible in-flight.
‘Our aim is to ensure that all travellers have access to onboard Wi-Fi, regardless of where they are going, and we are working with our airline partners to make this a reality. People will soon find it hard to believe that the sky was ever an internet blackspot while the rest of the world was connected.’
How eXConnect technology works
Panasonic Avionics' eXConnect uses the company’s global Ku-band aeronautical network to deliver broadband connectivity to aircraft flying all over the world – even over oceans.
This connectivity service enables passengers to access the Internet, compose and send email, log onto their favourite social media sites, or even watch Panasonic’s eXTV global television service on a connected seatback or their own personal electronic devices.
Crew and operations applications are also supported by eXConnect through the capture of real-time operational and maintenance data, as well as passenger usage statistics, to identify areas for improving efficiencies.
eXConnect allows real-time fleet monitoring by Panasonic’s Mission Control Center, backed by 24/7 on-call support, ensuring maximum in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) solution performance and reliability.
It also enables other operational benefits such as electronic flight bag and real-time weather monitoring, Built-in Test Equipment (BITE) data offloads and telemedicine.
eXConnect is backed by Panasonic's Ku-band aeronautical satellite network, which is the only global, broadband in-flight connectivity service available in the world today. Panasonic says it has the most aircraft types installed and the most aircraft flying international routes. It is the only in-flight connectivity service provider with linefit offerability at both Boeing and Airbus. eXConnect also enables eXTV, which is the world's only global, in-flight television service.
Panasonic believes that airlines can generate additional revenue with eXConnect by delivering highly-targeted advertising, real-time customer management support, personalized cabin service, loyalty program status, destination information, connection updates, and more.