World Cup to be screened live in the sky for first time

With just days to go until the World Cup kicks off, now you won’t have to miss a match when you’re jetting off on holiday…depending on which airline you’re flying with!

For the first time ever, almost two hundred planes have been fitted with special high-tech devices that will make live streaming of the World Cup matches “in the air” a reality.

This amazing satellite technology is being fitted on to 186 aircraft across ten airlines so that passengers can watch every goal, and every save, live, as they happen.

If you’re flying soon, you could be one of the very first 84,000 passengers to watch all the action in Rio live in flight.

In the past, many travellers have postponed their summer trips to ensure that they can enjoy the World Cup, however timeshare owners who are committed to specific weeks don’t always have the flexibilty to move their dates.  Being able to watch matches in the air means that you don’t need to re-arrange your trip around the football.

Germany is leading the pack with 93 Lufthansa jets now equipped with the latest in-flight TV capability and there is also a British Airways aircraft  running a trial of the state of the art Panasonics system which was showcased at the IATA meeting in Qatar recently.

“We are the only people crazy enough to do this because it is so expensive,” David Bruner, vice-president of global communications services for Panasonic  told The Times. “It is the only global television service and this is specific to aeroplanes. It is really a marvel.”

So how does it work?

The special software is able to decode satellite signals carrying the footage, which it then re-encrypts and sends the information to 13 “teleports” around the world that send and receive data from 19 satellites orbiting the earth.

The encrypted signals are beamed back down from the satellites and can be interpreted by any aircraft that has subscribed to Panasonic’s live sports channel. The images and all the World Cup action are relayed through the jets’ in-flight entertainment systems and broadcast at no charge to passengers.

The biggest challenge apparently was developing a small and aerodynamic satellite receiver capable of picking up data during turbulence on board an aircraft flying at 500mph.

The receiver, which – unbelievably – is smaller than a traditional satellite dish, rotates to remain locked on to the satellite.

This amazing sky high technology does not come cheap. It will cost between ten and 100 times more to beam the live matches from the ground all the way into the sky and on to an aircraft than what it costs when someone watches the football in their living room at home, but for passengers on the airlines introducing this special World Cup perk, the service will be free.

British Airways is running a trial of the system aboard a single jet that will cover some flights bound for Brazil.

If heading to Rio soon and you’re lucky, you might be one of the passengers on it!

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