10 January 2017: Passengers who fly on selected Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines short haul and mid-range flights will be offered free Internet use on their own mobile devices during the next test phase of its new inflight Wi-Fi service, powered by Inmarsat GX for Aviation. The analysis of the user behaviour will provide the data necessary to further enhance the service ahead of its market launch in the first quarter of 2017.
The announcement forms part of Inmarsat’s ten year strategic partnership, signed in October 2015 with Lufthansa Group, to provide high-speed inflight connectivity services for passengers onboard Lufthansa’s European continental as well as other airline brands in the Group.
Sending emails from 10,000 metres, online shopping while soaring over the Alps and streaming videos above the clouds will now all be possible on the airlines’ shorter inner-European routes using GX for Aviation, the world’s first in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator.
The advanced new service will allow the airlines’ passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with service levels on par with broadband connectivity available on the ground. Inmarsat partner Deutsche Telekom will be the Internet Service Provider for Lufthansa passengers.
Last summer, Lufthansa received Supplemental Type Certificate for the Airbus fleet A320 from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and successfully concluded all the necessary preparation work. Now the next stage of testing on Lufthansa and Austrian routes will start, initially involving a select number of aircraft in each case.
Harry Hohmeister, member of the Board of Directors of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and responsible for Hub Management, says “I am pleased that we can soon offer broadband Internet to our passengers on inner-European flights, giving them the chance to have a seamless digital experience.
“Since the launch of Lufthansa Flynet, it has been our goal to offer added value on board to our customers through innovation – and that also includes our Internet provision”.
In the first quarter of 2017, the number of Lufthansa aircraft fitted out with Internet access will rise to around 20. One by one, the entire Lufthansa A320 fleet is to be equipped with the latest advanced technology by the middle of 2018.
The re-fitting of all 31 aircraft at Austrian Airlines is planned to be completed before the end of April 2017. As well as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, Eurowings also has plans to bring the Internet on board its aircraft – estimated launch is to be by the end of the first quarter 2017. A total of 69 Eurowings aircraft are to be fitted with the systems by the summer of 2017.
Lufthansa Technik is responsible for the fitting of all the systems and components, as well as dealing with the required Aviation regulations and other statutory authorisations. They are fitting out the entire Airbus A320 family of the Lufthansa Group Airlines with the latest GX for Aviation Ka-band satellite technology.
By spring, almost 100 aircraft are scheduled to have been equipped. The aircraft can be fitted with the required antennae and routers on a series of ten production lines, working simultaneously, at the Lufthansa Technik sites. On account of the only minimally-invasive adjustments needed to the aircraft structure, the rapid re-fitting of even large fleets is possible – generally involving just four days’ downtime per aircraft.
Lufthansa Systems is providing the necessary technical infrastructure for Internet connection on board. This includes the network operations in the aircraft – the technical pre-requisite for Wi-Fi on board – as well as the provision of the necessary software for the operation of the FlyNet portal, through which the customer gains access to the net.