US carriers continue to make headway in equipping their full fleets with inflight connectivity. Delta Air Lines’ provider, Gogo, today confirmed it has received supplemental type certification (STC) with bird strike approval for the Boeing 777-200ER , meaning that all necessary approvals are in place to equip the carrier’s long-haul fleet. JetBlue Airways is also making headway in fitting its fleet with Ka-band airborne connectivity from the pairing of Thales and ViaSat.
However, JetBlue has described the process of equipping its Embraer E-190 fleet with the ‘Fly-Fi’ branded high-speed Internet service as being “slightly more complicated” than the Airbus A320/A321 installations.
This is because to install the necessary antennae and radomes on the E-190s it needs to secure both the usual STC as well as a separate type certificate from regulators in Brazil, where Embraer is based. This means the carrier “has to go back to Embraer and involve them in the process”, Jetblue director of product development Jamie Perry tells RGN.
However, installations are on track and the airline aims to complete the E-190 upgrades in the first half of 2016.
Perry says the airline had hoped to be able to install the same sized antennae on its E-190s as it used on its Airbus aircraft, but discovered that the radome needed to house the antennae was “so large in relation to the fuselage that it would create too much drag”.
“So we had to go back to smaller antennae and we had to develop a smaller radome,” reveals Perry, adding that this radome passed its bird strike testing last week.
He assures that JetBlue will offer both live television and connectivity on the E-190s. “There will be two antennae under a smaller radome.” And, as confirmed yesterday, the carrier intends to continue offering a free tier of Fly-Fi to passengers when the service comes off beta testing.
Photo above courtesy of Jason Rabinowitz, aka @AirlineFlyer