Iberia is the latest airline to deliver upgraded inflight connectivity to its passengers. The carrier’s first A330-300s fitted with the Gogo 2Ku solution began flying in late 2017 and the service is now in active testing on the aircraft. It is not officially live but passengers can use the connectivity while final testing is performed.
At least three aircraft – EC-LUK, EC-LZJ and EC-LXK – are now carrying the hardware. For LXK the installation timing is easy to spot. The aircraft took a 40 day break in November-December 2017 during which an install could occur. For the other two aircraft, however, the installation timing is less clear. In reviewing the flight histories for the aircraft neither LUK nor LZJ appears to have stopped for more than 48 hours in Madrid going back to the beginning of October. Given Gogo’s recent statements that install times dropped to “around 30 hours” it is certainly possible that the installs occurred during these breaks. It is impressive that such quick installs are being realized this early in the program. With such quick install times tracking fleet fitting progress is more challenging so it is possible other frames are also fitted.
The 2Ku solution is a significant upgrade for Iberia passengers. The carrier previously installed the SITAONAIR SwitfBroadBand solution on many of its long-haul aircraft, delivering slow connections at high prices. It was somewhat functional in an emergency scenario but not useful (nor affordable) for anything beyond the most basic messaging functions. Business Class passengers received a 4MB complimentary session during flights; one refresh of a Twitter timeline could burn through 60%+ of that.
With the service transitioning to production Iberia joins IAG sister airline British Airways in activating the faster inflight connectivity on board. BA’s 747-400 fleet is first to receive the hardware with 777s, 787s and A380s to follow. Aer Lingus will fit four of its 757s with the 2Ku system as well. Iberia is expected to install 2Ku on all eight A330-300s in the fleet and as many as seven of its A340-600s.
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From an installation pace perspective Gogo appears to have delivered on its promise to fit between 450-550 aircraft in 2017. The carrier passed the 500 fitted aircraft milestone on 12 December 2017, with 400+ of those installed in 2017. As expected, the bulk of the installs occurs in the winter when aircraft utilization is lower. Keeping that pace in the off season will be necessary to hit the 650-750 aircraft target range in 2018.