Delta Air Lines, which has long promised to offer passengers free Internet access, said it is ready to make good on its commitment this week, CEO Ed Bastian announced from the CES floor in Las Vegas that members of the carrier’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program, along with sponsor T-Mobile, will be able to enjoy the benefits Feb. 1 from and until the end of the year, they will be able to use free Wi-Fi on 700 Viasat Ka-band IFC-equipped domestic aircraft.
But while it’s remarkable that a major US airline is willing to offer free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights, Delta isn’t technically a pioneer in this regard. JetBlue Airways has been offering passengers free internet powered by Viasat for nearly a decade. A group of carriers outside the United States also saw fit to support this free convenience.
Take Japan Airlines, an Intelsat customer, for example. In 2017, JAL announced that it would provide free internet To all customers flying domestic routes supported by the traditional Gogo (now Intelsat) Ku-band aerial communications system that was equipped with approximately 77 JAL aircraft years ago, including Boeing 737, 767 and 777 aircraft.
Now, Japan Airlines has announced that it is extending free in-flight Internet to its Embraer E190 fleet by installing Intelsat’s more advanced 2Ku IFC solution on the first of 14 E190s operated by its regional subsidiary J-AIR.
The E-190s previously only offered wireless IFE to passengers. By autumn 2024, when the 2Ku installations are complete, they will offer both solutions, making J-AIR the first regional operator to offer both in-flight entertainment and connectivity in Japan and the first E190 aircraft to be equipped with Intelsat 2Ku globally . system.
“The addition of 2Ku will provide the same free in-flight Internet experience they have had on larger aircraft since 2017. For Intelsat, this is a great showcase for other E190 operators around the world who want to offer free service to all their passengers,” said Dave Bijur, Senior Vice President of Commercial, Intelsat Commercial Aviation.
The 2Ku package is optimized for larger transport aircraft. But Japan Airlines and Intelsat nevertheless saw fit to deliver it to the 2-2 configured E190.
“Intelsat’s capable and reliable 2Ku system will make J-AIR the first regional aircraft in Japan to offer IFC services, providing miles of entertainment for our customers,” said Keisuke Suzuki, Japan Airlines’ SVP Customer Experience.
Separately, Intelsat is working with cable and wiring specialist Carlisle Interconnect Technologies to bring to market a new broadband in-flight connectivity solution that can work seamlessly across NGSO and GEO networks. optimized for narrower fuselages of regional jets. The low-profile, low-power Ka1717 package for regional jets will compete with new types of electronically steerable antennas as well as next-generation air-to-ground offerings in North America and elsewhere.
During an interview with Runway Girl Network at the APEX/IFSA EXPO in Long Beach, CarlisleIT’s director of sales for Asia Pacific, Jerome Viagas, explained that his firm provides “all the structures and the adapter plate, the radome and the whole integration and certification package. integrating these antennas into the aircraft and making sure we have the whole structural package to fit these antennas into the aircraft.
ThinKom and CarlisleIT plan to flight test their RJ-centric satcom antennas this year.
Whether Delta will consider this IFC package for regional jet equipment remains to be seen. Delta This was reported by CES it plans to bring free Wi-Fi on international and regional flights by the end of 2024. Its regional aircraft are currently equipped with air-to-ground connectivity, operated by Intelsat (and supported by the Gogo Business Aviation network). Intelsat’s Ku-band and 2Ku IFC solutions are currently installed on Delta long-haul aircraft (the carrier’s IFC commitment on its A330s and A350s) Expired in July 2022). In the meantime, closes loyalty to free Wi-FiAs Delta does, it’s a growing trend.
Featured image credited to J-Air