The last time we checked in on British Airways’ venerable fleet of Boeing 747-400s, the newest of them were getting refitted with even more business class seats and Panasonic eX3 IFE.
However, there was a question mark about the carrier’s connectivity strategy, and these planes re-entered service without it. The exception was a single aircraft, which had previously been fitted with Panasonic’s eXConnect Ku-Band service as a flying testbed.
In May 2016, British Airways parent IAG and Gogo announced a deal for Gogo to provide its 2Ku solution on nearly 140 IAG aircraft, of which 118 belong to BA alone. BA has said very little about its Gogo rollout other than that it would happen sometime in early 2017. It turns out that BA meant very early in 2017, and one of the first airliners to be equipped with the 2Ku service was one of the 18 Super Hi-J 747-400s.
RGN understands that beginning in early November 2016, BA began installing the 2Ku hardware on G-CIVV. The first installation took 10 days at Heathrow, and the aircraft was then immediately sent for a heavy check at the BA maintenance center in Cardiff, Wales. The 2Ku-fitted bird broke cover in January on Twitter. More recently, BA began passenger trials of the system, with Gogo personnel aboard the flights to evaluate and troubleshoot.
— Naz (@Planenews_777) January 14, 2017
BA and Gogo have not provided details of the equipage timeline for the Super Hi-J fleet, but Gogo spokesman Steve Nolan recently noted that the firm has gotten the install timeline “down to three days on our production line, which is fantastic”.
Installation of satellite connectivity is a complex undertaking. But business travelers for whom the Super Hi-J configuration was built, will welcome inflight connectivity on board.
The 2Ku service now offered on a portion of Delta’s fleet is already enjoying solid reviews on social media. As Gogo rolls out new modem technology, and the planes fly under high throughput satellites, the service should further improve.