Qantas has revealed that a charter flight from Sydney to Brisbane was used to load test its new free high-speed wi-fi system.
As part of the test phase of its new passenger internet service, the airline packed the flight with 140 employees to connect 200 devices to the network at the same time.
Staff were asked to perform varied activities from downloading apps ti watching different streaming services and send emails. The result, according to Qantas, was average speeds of between 7 and 12Mbps per device – which is more than enough to stream high-definition video.
The company claimed that such load testing resulted in tougher conditions for the system than a normal commercial flight, where the airline expects 50% of the passengers would connect with a single device at any given time. The load test on the Boeing 737s VH-XZB saw a 100% usage rate with multiple devices per person.
The new high-speed wi-fi system, which will be free for passengers, also assists the crew. A Qantas blog post said that the pilots of the charter flight monitored real-time weather on their iPads, allowing them to avoid storms that were developing. The cabin crew also tested a Qantas app that manages customers’ connecting flights in case of a delay.
“We gathered a huge amount of user data from this test flight, and we’re now working to make final adjustments ahead of inviting customers to test, then use the system,” announced Qantas.
Customer testing will take place in the coming weeks, with a full-production deployment expected on domestic aircraft from the middle of this year.