Inmarsat can finally count another airline as having retrofitted hardware to aircraft in preparation for an upcoming Inmarsat GX Aviation service launch. While several Lufthansa Group airlines have been retrofitting their respective Airbus A320 family fleets with GX connectivity, and others have taken new aircraft line-fit with the system, no airline is known to have begun installing GX on already-in-service widebody aircraft (though Qatar Airways is in line to do so).
RGN can confirm that Air Astana has started its small but meaningful retrofit program of three Boeing 767-300ERs in partnership with integrator Rockwell Collins (see visual evidence of the install here). Originally announced at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in April of last year – with equipage planned for fall, 2016 – the first installation was delayed until the first half of 2017.
The first of Air Astana’s three 767-300ERs underwent installation in Xiamen, China in mid-March. The remaining two 767s will wait until September for installation, said Vladimir Kim, Air Astana’s corporate communications coordinator in an email in late 2016. While Air Astana’s service may not be active for passenger use at this time, it is an important step in making GX available outside of continental Europe and the Qatar implementation.