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Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has started installing the latest Ka-band satellite technology as standard equipment on Lufthansa Group’s entire Airbus A320 aircraft family fleet– approximately 300 aircraft — bringing broadband communication to the airline’s short- and medium-haul flights, the company said Sept. 26.
The fleet will be fitted with the necessary antennae and routers in parallel in up to ten production lines by spring 2018 at various LHT locations.
LHT engineers have optimized the system installation procedure and minimized the required intervention in the aircraft structure. This allows the fastest possible integration even in large fleets – generally in four days per layover, LHT said.
LHT holds Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) to install the system on Airbus A320s and A340s. Lufthansa’s Airbus A330s Boeing 737s will be added in the short term “in order to provide full support for customers in particular in the Asian market for equipping their fleets with broadband communication technology,” LHT said.
“We can equip even large fleets with this technology in the shortest possible time,” LHT head of connectivity Lukas Bucher said.
“[But] we also want to make sure from the very outset that any technological advances that we may not yet be aware of or any changes in customer requirements can be retrofitted or converted with minimum overhead,” LHT product manager, strategy and business development, aircraft modification business unit, Heike Handke said.
Together with the partners Inmarsat and Lufthansa Systems, Ka-band satellite technology allows coverage on short and medium-haul flights with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) network. Passengers can use their own mobile devices to access the Internet via WLAN. In addition to simple email services, more demanding applications and even streaming will be possible, LHT said.
Eventually, passengers will be able to transfer data using their mobile phones based on their own mobile phone contract, assuming this feature is approved by the respective airline, LHT said.
Lufthansa has equipped all its intercontinental widebody aircraft with the FlyNet Wi-Fi system.