PHOTO: A Qantas Airbus A330-200 on the tarmac. (photo courtesy of Qantas)
After months of Qantas’ extensive testing on in-flight Wi-Fi, the Australian airline has started beta testing on one Boeing 737 in preparation for the addition of free wireless Internet to all of its domestic flights.
Qantas officially announced that it will be working over the coming months to fine-tune the Wi-Fi service, which it plans to add to 80 of its Airbus 330 and Boeing 737 aircraft by the end of 2018.
The trial on the Boeing 737 will serve up to 15,000 customers per month and will help the airline work out any issues with the system. When ready to unveil to the rest of the fleet, the Wi-Fi service will be available to 15 million domestic passengers per year.
“In-flight Wi-Fi has been on our wish list for quite a while, but the sheer size of Australia meant it was hard to offer a service that was fast and reliable,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told 9news.com.au. “The technology we’re using onboard this 737 is a generation ahead of what most airlines use. That's why we've installed it on one aircraft for the first few months until we’ve finished fine tuning and are ready to roll out to the rest of the domestic fleet.”
While the roll-out won’t be completed for at least a year, Qantas is reporting that once it is fully operational, the onboard Wi-Fi will be up to 10 times faster than conventional wireless Internet found on today’s planes.
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In addition to serving customers with high-speed Internet service, the new technology will be used by pilots and crew members to keep up with real-time weather information in order to help them avoid or prepare for potential turbulence. It would also help avoid or deal with medical issues during flights.
Adding the service to its domestic fleet is a great start for the airline, but Qantas officials are working with suppliers to develop an Internet product for its international fleet. The goal will be to provide high-quality Internet service while avoiding the technical and performance issues synonymous with Wi-Fi on planes.