The 737 MAX will soon fly with another inflight connectivity option. Lufthansa Technik announced today a deal to fit “several Boeing 737 MAX aircraft of an undisclosed airline customer” at its MRO facility in Budapest beginning in Mid-2018.
The five-day modification includes the installation of a broadband antenna on the aircraft’s external structure, together with cabling, hardware and software installation in the aircraft cabin.
Following the modification program, full base maintenance capability will be built up for Boeing 737 MAX at Lufthansa Technik Budapest in the next months in a first step. Capability extension at further locations of the Lufthansa Technik network will follow.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) March 17, 2017
While not specified in the release it is assumed that the kit being installed is the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) solution. Technik is currently installing that solution on the A320 family of aircraft for the Lufthansa Group carriers. It also recently announced a deal to fit “several Boeing 747-8 aircraft” with the GX solution. Yes, Technik has experience with other solutions as well (including the Global Eagle Ku-band kit for Norwegian) but the GX option makes the most sense given the current market dynamics.
Read More: Which 747-8 is next up for high-speed wifi?
As for likely airline customers, the most obvious candidate is Norwegian’s burgeoning 737 MAX fleet. The carrier committed to GX on its 787 and MAX aircraft as an undisclosed customer more than a year ago. Initial MAX deliveries were made without the connectivity installed so the retrofit process will be necessary. And Technik has proven its ability to deliver on that aftermarket work across sites and production lines for multiple solutions.
Header image via Lufthansa Technik