Cautious but confident, Gogo issued a report this morning declaring success in mitigating the deicing fluid issues on its 2Ku inflight wifi antenna hardware. The winter season just started but the company estimates some 600 aircraft saw 2600+ deicing events through 10 December 2018. Zero issues were seen on those planes, with the company stating it “experienced no incidents of 2Ku system degradation on aircraft installed with Gogo’s recent de-icing modifications.”
“Developing and deploying a de-icing solution has been the top priority of our operational and engineering teams since last winter,” says John Wade, president of Gogo’s commercial aviation division. “Our analysis demonstrates that our deployed modifications have enabled us to avoid de-icing issues and drive high 2Ku system availability during this initial cold weather period.”
The modifications include adding deflector plates under the radome and adjusting the mount plate on the fuselage. In the Q3 earnings call CEO Oakleigh Thorne suggested that the company “have tested this solution extensively and feel that if installed properly it will eliminate in the high 90% range of all deicing events.” Tests are only so compelling, however, and the real world data is far more reassuring for airline customers, passengers and investors. System availability rose to 98% for the first 10 days of December 2018 compared to 92% a year prior.
The vast majority of aircraft flying the revised 2Ku hardware today come from the North American fleet according to Gogo. International aircraft will see modifications during routine maintenance visits or more quickly at air airline request. Additionally, all new installs include the modifications.
As for the “cautious” part of the company’s position, Gogo acknowledges that it “may not have experienced all potential weather and de-icing conditions.” It leaves the door open for potential additional work required should new troubles appear.
On a broader scale the company still faces challenges in ramping install pace back up – it slowed following the deicing issues – and activating more of the international fleet. It must boost revenue in addition to cutting costs. But getting the system more reliable on board is a strong step towards realizing that goal.