Gogo is one step closer to bringing Ku-band satellite-supported inflight Wi-Fi to Delta Air Lines and other customers after receiving a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate Ku-band terminals on domestic and international flights, the APEX editor’s blog can reveal.
The Chicago-headquartered company, which has been gearing up to launch Ku-band connectivity on a Delta Boeing 767 aircraft, says the blanket FCC license gives it the ability to operate up to 1,000 technically identical transmit/receive earth stations on aircraft.
The license has been granted based on Gogo’s agreements with satellite operators SES and Intelsat, which will provide the company with extensive global Ku-band satellite coverage.
Under its agreement with SES, Gogo will use a trio of SES satellites that will enable the company to expand its broadband offering in the sky to aircraft flying busy transatlantic routes. The SES-1 spacecraft will cover the continental US, while NSS-703 “and three powerful spot beams” will reach across the North Atlantic and SES-4 serves Europe, says Gogo. The firm notes that Gogo service through the NSS-703 satellite is expected to be transitioned in mid-2014 to the new SES-6 bird, which slated for launch next year.
Gogo’s deal with Intelsat gives the former company access to the Intelsat 19, Intelsat 21 and Intelsat 22 satellites. These satellites are designed to provide high-speed connectivity for airline passengers crossing portions of the Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, as well as routes over South America, Asia, Africa and Australia, says Gogo.
“The licensing is another step in allowing us to launch global in-flight services, including services for aircraft flying busy routes over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans,” says Gogo president and CEO Michael Small.
Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG)-based connectivity system is already in place on Delta’s domestic fleet, and thousands of other commercial and business jet aircraft. The next and final step for Gogo’s Ku system to be cleared for take-off on Delta’s 767 twinjets (and later, the rest of the carrier’s international long-haul fleet) is for the firm to receive supplemental type certification (STC) from the FAA, a process that has taken longer than expected.
Earlier this month, Flight International reported that Gogo’s Ku radome (which is supplied by Aerosat), would need to submit to new FAA rules for birdstrike testing. Citing comment from Delta fleet projects manager Amit Patel, the magazine said both parties now expect certification “as soon as June if the FAA approves the results of additional tests”.
But the birdstrike issue is not unique to Gogo. The APEX editor’s blog can confirm that the FAA is now requiring any company seeking a new STC for inflight connectivity to submit to stricter birdstrike testing, which is affecting a number of connectivity providers and airlines, as it is slowing down connectivity equipage of their fleets. As one US-based industry insider noted, “It’s affecting all of us.”
(Photo of Delta 767 above and main courtesy of AirTeamImages.)