Boeing To Install In-Flight Wi-Fi As Factory Option For New Aircraft

Boeing will allow airlines to order new planes with satellite Wi-Fi installed at the factory with ViaSat deal

Airlines can now order Boeing aircraft with in-flight Wi-Fi installed at the factory after the aviation firm agreed a deal with satellite operator ViaSat.

The partners claim the factory option will eliminate the need for airlines to take planes out of service in order to upgrade them for wireless connectivity, which is increasingly being demanded by business travellers and consumer wanting to stream content to their devices.

Specifically the arrangement refers to ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite terminal, which the company claims offers speeds eight to ten times faster than the competition. The in-flight service currently operates on more than 500 aircraft, delivering productivity and entertainment to passengers and tools for crew.

In-flight Wi-Fi

BA British Airways plane aeroplance © Steve Mann /“Our agreement with Boeing is an important milestone giving our airline customers the ability to get the best on-board Wi-Fi system delivered with their new aircraft,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Mobility at ViaSat.

“By selecting ViaSat in-flight communications for Boeing’s fleet, airlines now can differentiate their in-flight internet service with a flexible, sustainable business model that will continue to create value as more passengers use the service.”

Air travel has long been considered the final refuge of those wishing to avoid phone calls, text messages and the Internet, but this sanctuary is slowly being eroded as more airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi.

A number of US carriers and Australia’s Qantas have offered connections for some time, while British Airways is set to offer Internet to passengers through a new S-band satellite called Europsat, which will go live in 2016 with the intent of serving the European aviation market.

Virgin Atlantic already offers high speed connectivity on some transatlantic flights from Europe after the Branson-branded airline agreed a deal with Gogo late last year. Budget carrier Ryanair is also considering offering Wi-Fi as part of its push to attract more business passengers.

However some security researchers have raised concerns that such systems might be used by hackers to control aircraft systems.

Think you know your transport tech? Find out with our quiz!