Qantas says it’s installed the first lot of wi-fi hardware on a trial Boeing 737-800 as the airline prepares to introduce free internet on flights from next year.
It took 10 engineers in Brisbane a total of 900 man hours to install the satellite antenna on top of the aircraft, as well as multiple wireless access points. The plane is now back in service and inflight testing with technology partner ViaSat will now get underway before the service is rolled out in early 2017, a little later than originally planned.
Qantas head of customer experience Phil Capps said the new system will be to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi.
“Putting wi-fi on board the aircraft has been an extraordinary task for the team. It requires a significant amount of testing to ensure that, first and foremost, the safety of the installation meets Qantas’ stringent standards, as well as ensuring the system will deliver the level of performance we expect at this stage of the trial,” he said.
“Customers with a keen eye will be able to spot the satellite antenna, which is housed in a streamlined fibreglass radome on top of the fuselage, towards the rear of the aircraft.”
The planned speed will let people stream movies, TV shows, news and live sports and Capps says it will also help the pilots and cabin crew with things like live weather data.
Qantas is rolling out wi-fi on its domestic Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330 planes, with installation starting in mid-2017, and completed in 2018.
Capps said the airline is also in talks with suppliers about wi-fi for its international and QantasLink fleets.