In-flight WiFi connectivity is coming to the turboprop market. De Havilland Aircraft announced a series of enhancements to its Dash 8-400 offering this week during the Farnborough International Airshow, including integration of a Starlink in-flight internet kit on board.
Our solutions offer our operators many opportunities to increase operational flexibility and to provide a passenger experience that is equivalent to that on new production aircraft.– Jean-Philippe Côté, Vice President, Programs, De Havilland Canada
In an industry first, Starlink inked an agreement with De Havilland to integrate the connectivity platform on board. With its relatively small, light-weight terminal solution, Starlink promises high speeds and increased passenger comfort, while keeping the fuel burn impact to a minimum.
The joint offering includes the Starlink electronically steered phased array antenna, as well as power supply, Wi-Fi wireless access point, and applicable wiring.
The move also represents something of a shift in Starlink’s approach to the market. The company previously appeared keen to let airlines handle the integration tasks rather than working directly with OEMs on installation options. Delivering the service from the factory could significantly increase chances airlines would select the option.
While turboprop aircraft are generally seen as flying shorter routes, the Q400 has evolved to operate between hundreds of city pairs scheduled at more than 90 minutes of block time, according to flight schedule data from Cirium. These flights, much like the comparable duration regional jet services, hold potential for IFC demand.
And Starlink believes it can best deliver that service with its lightweight solution.
Entertainment and power, too
De Havilland also now offers a streaming inflight entertainment solution for its Q400 customers. The kit installs into an overhead bin and can be powered by batteries or aircraft power.
The company also offers a USB power option for passengers on board. The solution installs on the seating crossbar, offering a pair of power points to passengers.
Other interior updates
Beyond the IFE/C market, De Havilland offers several other interior upgrades to improve the on-board passenger experience. These include an overhead bin retrofit option to increase capacity, as well as pictorial signage, LED lighting, and new decor options for the cabin.
Design Weight Increases
Less sexy to passengers, but perhaps much more important to airlines, the Q400’s payload capacity will increase by up to 3,000 pounds. The design weight increase “will allow operators to meet the increasing passenger weight allowance requirements mandated by Transport Canada, the FAA and various other aviation authorities, without any impact on revenue,” according to Jean-Philippe Côté, Vice President, Programs, De Havilland Canada.
And where increased passenger weights are not an issue, that capacity can be used to expand operational capabilities. Dash 8-400 operators will be able to carry more passengers, more bags, more cargo, and more fuel, and provide more range than ever before.
More news from the 2022 Farnborough International Airshow
- Delta confirms 737 MAX 10 order
- Boom Overture adds engines in design revamp
- Porter Air boosts Embraer E2 commitment in advance of service launch
- Dash 8 adds IFE/C with Starlink option
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