Qingdao Airlines has reaffirmed its commitment to expanding and accelerating the deployment of satellite-supported, inflight high-speed Internet across its fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft.
News of the carrier’s decision comes as ZTE Corporation reveals it is readying to roll out a 5G air-to-ground (ATG)-based inflight connectivity service in China, with the “top 10 busiest routes” to be served first.
The race to connect China’s domestic fleet is well and truly on.
In July 2020, Qingdao began evaluating FTS’s Xstream-branded Ka-band IFC aboard a single A320. The solution represents “the first China developed IFEC system to receive all three major international airworthiness STC certifications from FAA, EASA and CAAC”, according to FTS. China’s TD Link acts as service provider.
“Over the past 10 months, the trial aircraft has flown more than 1,200 flights flawlessly with impeccable service, delighting Qingdao Airlines passengers with [an] unprecedented inflight connected experience equivalent to ground 4G performance, with services such as movies, social media, live video broadcast, maps and e-commerce (with mobile payment),” said FTS.
The IFC service, added Qingdao Airlines president Wu Longxue in a statement, “not only won strong accolades from passengers but also created a new business model of ‘Internet + Aviation’, making Qingdao Airlines a role model for the domestic industry. Qingdao Airlines’ innovative and pioneering spirit has attracted strong endorsement and support from local government, CAAC and industry bodies.
“After carefully weighing all these factors and firmly believing in the benefits of connected aircraft, the airline stood firm in its decision to go full steam and accelerate the fleet-wide adoption of inflight connectivity.” Qingdao operates a 25-strong A320/A321 fleet.
The Xstream system is integrated with China Satcom’s ChinaSat-16 Ka-band HTS satellite and, according to FTS, is capable of providing speeds of up to 150 Mbps between the aircraft and the ground.
FTS’s ground-based cloud management platform, which has been in service since the trial began, has proven to be critical in ensuring service delivery “with real-time monitoring of airborne systems, connectivity status, as well as consolidating all inflight data for ground analytics”, noted Beijing-based FTS.
FTS added that it is seeing more confidence, optimism and interest from domestic airlines regarding making a long-term investment in inflight connectivity “as they believe this is a pivotal enabler to drive digital transformation of passenger service, airline operations and auxiliary revenue from which airlines could benefit to achieve recovery and long-term sustainability”.
- ZTE Corporation talks 5G ATG inflight connectivity for China
- Signs of China domestic recovery boost prospects for IFC providers
- SkyFive emerges with ATG proposition featuring local telcos
- APSTAR-6D expected to support domestic IFC trials in China
- APSATCOM expects major adoption of satcom IFC in mainland China
- FTS makes good on China IFC promise; looks to engage other markets
Images credited to FTS