Get ready for more in-flight wifi on the Turkish Airlines fleet. Global Eagle secured its initial Supplemental Type Certificates allowing for the installation and activation of the Airconnect Global Ku platform on the 737 family of aircraft. The STCs come approximately 10 weeks after the first equipped aircraft returned to service with the hardware on board.
Turkish Airlines is the ideal partner for the first installation of our technology with our new STC. We look forward to supporting the airline as it continues to elevate its connectivity services across its 737 fleet.– Mike Pigott, EVP Connectivity Operations, Global Eagle
The pair of STCs provide flexibility for Global Eagle’s service offerings. While one focuses on an installation of wholly Global Eagle-sourced hardware the second includes gear from Turkish Technic as well. EVP, Connectivity Operations Mike Pigott explains, “The difference is just those optional components from Turkish Technic demonstrating our flexibility in adapting our solutions for customer-preferred equipment where and when required. We are proud of our ability to work with various technology and partners to deliver solutions that meet our customers need.”
Ship TC-JVP has carried the hardware since late December, though the system was not yet active. And while the company has been quiet about installation progress on other aircraft, Pigott tells PaxEx.Aero that additional STCs are expected in the near future. A 737-900 is expected in the immediate future.
Timing on activation of the systems for passengers also remains unclear; that likely depends more on the airline than on Global Eagle.
Integrating multiple partners
The willingness to Integrate technology developed by Turkish Technic was a core consideration for the airline when choosing Global Eagle as a partner. Getting the new hardware certified theoretically slowed the deployment process. But that partnership, as well as working with Profen for teleport services, could open up additional opportunities for Global Eagle in the region. At the deal announcement in late 2019 Global Eagle President Per Norén explained, “We need local cultural, strategic, regulatory, and financially savvy partners. We’ve worked with [Profen] for a long period of time in this process to get Turkish Airlines to sign with us. They’re a very strong professional and technologically savvy organization.”
Profen also notes the opportunity to expand the partnership. CEO Onder Havuzlu adds, “Combining our national engineering experience with Global Eagle’s IFC expertise and Turkish Technic’s superior maintenance capabilities will enable us to provide secure, high-quality data connectivity solutions for Turkish Airlines and the Turkish commercial aviation market.”
A displacement opportunity?
Pigott also notes “The installation package was designed for all variants of the 737 in mind.” This implies that the MAX family, also on order from Turkish, could have the gear installed with minimal additional certification effort. The initial tranche of those aircraft were announced with Panasonic Avionics as the connectivity supplier.
The companies are very, very focused today on bringing the 737 NG fleet online today, but Global Eagle CEO Josh Marks knows that a successful product introduction could lead to more opportunities down the line. “There’s growth opportunity for us, but first we have to get into and give them the best, the experience that their passengers want. And become a very, very good partner to them. And then in our discussions with them we have several avenues that we can explore together.”
Global Eagle had some success on that front once before. But past performance is no guarantee of future results. And the industry is arguably more competitive than ever.
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