Qatar Airways has begun adding live satellite television to the list of in-flight entertainment options available on its routes.
The service is available in all classes of service on select flights in the Middle East and Europe. At present five aircraft are equipped with the Rockwell Collins-built system and it will be on 14 aircraft by the end of this year with a further 10 to follow in 2007, the Doha-based airline said.
Receiving satellite TV while on the move is no easy task. Dish antennas typically need to be aligned to within one degree of the satellite to get a signal so keeping the antenna pointing in the same place while the aircraft moves requires complex calculations. The system on the Qatar Airways aircraft uses an antenna mounted on top of the aircraft that is constantly repositioned depending on aircraft heading, position and pitch and roll information from the aircraft's avionics system.
Live satellite TV is already offered on some low-cost flights in the US but Qatar Airways says its service represents the first availability on international flights. Boeing's Connexion by Boeing in-flight broadband service provides a smaller selection of international news and sports channels although that's streamed across the Internet connection for viewing on a laptop PC rather than being provided direct via satellite to the seat-back TV.
Several channels are available in both the Middle East and Europe including Al Jazeera, BBC World, EuroNews, CNN International and TV5. EuroSport News, MBC and Disney Channel are available in the Middle East and EuroSport 2, Future TV and Bloomberg are available in Europe.