JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV has inked a deal with Eutelsat Communications that will clear the way for the installation and distribution of Ka-band satellite-supported inflight connectivity for airlines in Europe, including launch customer – and JetBlue partner – Aer Lingus.
The agreement between LiveTV and Eutelsat allows European airlines to benefit from the latter firm’s ‘Air Access’ service, which is supported by a high-performance KA-SAT satellite and its ground-operating network, and ensures “high-quality Internet access and video streaming for smartphones, laptops and tablets via onboard WiFi hotspots”, says LiveTV.
The satellite’s geographic coverage spans from Scandinavia to North Africa, and from Ireland to Russia.
The first Air Access-certified aircraft is expected to receive an EASA supplemental type certificate (STC) in early 2014. Aer Lingus will offer the service on its short-haul fleet, including Airbus A320 family aircraft types.
However, sources tell Runway Girl Network that LiveTV expects to make more announcements about European airline commitments for Ka-band connectivity very soon.
LiveTV received STCs in 2013 for Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-900 aircraft from the US FAA to install Ka-band inflight Internet on JetBlue and United Airlines. JetBlue launched the service at the end of last year, and United is expected to launch the service shortly. Additional STCs covering the Airbus A321 and Boeing 737-800 are in process, says the company.