Qingdao Airlines is ready for a full-fleet deployment of high-speed in-flight internet service. The carrier reaffirmed its commitment to the FTS Xstream™ high-speed satellite inflight system earlier this month, validating the successful implementation of the first aircraft July 2020.
After Qingdao Airlines launched the high-speed inflight Internet flight, it not only won strong accolades from passengers but also created a new business model of ‘Internet + Aviation’, making Qingdao Airlines a role model for the domestic industry.– Mr Wu Longxue, President of Qingdao Airlines
The Xstream™ system suite developed by FTS includes XstreamSAT™ satellite communication, XstreamLITE™ cabin WiFi, and XstreamOP™ cloud management platform.
It is the first China-developed IFEC solution to receive international airworthiness STC certifications from the three main global regulatory bodies, the FAA, EASA and CAAC.
The system uses China Satcom’s ChinaSat-16 Ka-HTS satellites, with the ability to deliver up to 150 Mbps bandwidth between aircraft and ground. Over the past 10 months, the trial aircraft has flown more than 1,200 flights, delighting Qingdao Airlines passengers with unprecedented inflight connected experience equivalent to ground 4G performance, with services such as movies, social media, live video broadcast, maps and e-commerce (with mobile payment).
After evaluating the trial performance, as well as receiving strong endorsement and support from local government, CAAC and industry bodies, and firmly believing in the benefits of connected aircraft, the airline is ready to move forward.
System performance, reliability and benefits all exceeded airline expectations. It will now press forward with fleet-wide adoption of inflight connectivity.
The business model to justify the installation expense is less clear, however. This has long been an issue for the Chinese market, particularly for domestic flights. The e-commerce option was supposed to deliver outsized revenue for the airlines but, to date, there is scant evidence that has occurred.
The announcement of this intention follows news from Gilat of increased shipments of its Taurus modem solution to China earlier this year. The order was first announced in September 2018.
An evolving connectivity market in China
In preparation for the accelerated fleet wide deployment, FTS is ramping up its operations and capabilities. It announced receipt of CAAC PMA certification and Part 145 maintenance and repair overhaul approvals for its range of components. With its strong R&D presence, manufacturing, and support network in China, FTS is well positioned to provide prompt and comprehensive service to support the airlines in China, while also remained fully compliant to governmental and regulatory requirements.
The decision to press forward with satellite-based connectivity also comes in the face of rapidly evolving options for a terrestrial connectivity option in China. Multiple vendors are working on 5G ATG networks. Government approval, along with the financial and regulatory backing to quickly deploy those offerings, is expected imminently.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.