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Panasonic's in-flight dreams

The promise of in-flight Internet service is once again dangled in front of our noses.

Panasonic Avionics, a division of Panasonic, would like to step in where Connexion by Boeing dropped out with regard to Web access, according to an article from Shephard Inflight Online.

Panasonic has developed its own system to provide an Internet connection to airplane passengers. They are hoping to lure aircraft that were already outfitted for Connexion by Boeing, the Internet service project that Boeing shut down for financial reasons. The company says that Connexion-equipped planes need only switch out the modem to be compatible with the Panasonic system. Panasonic Avionics has 150 planes on board, but needs to sign on a total of 500 within the next 60 days to make it worth going forward with the launch, David Bruner, a Panasonic spokesman told Shephard.

Laptop use on airplanes has been a contentious issue these days with some airlines because of the recall of potentially explosive batteries. Most airlines will allow the laptops to be used while plugged into an external power source with the battery removed, but lots of luck finding an outlet in coach class.

So, if Panasonic Avionics can drum up takers, airline passengers may ironically be faced with an available Internet connection, but no power to use their laptop. How pathetic.

Neither Panasonic nor Panasonic Avionics were immediately available for comment.