Qatar Airways today became the first airline to fly the Airbus A350 to the United States. The aircraft, equipped with SITAONAIR inflight connectivity, flew from Hamad International Airport to New York’s JFK International Airport.
The aircraft is equipped with Inmarsat’s L-band SwiftBroadband system, providing up to 432kbps connectivity. Once the aircraft is above 10,000 feet, portable electronic devices can connect to send SMS, MMS or access emails and browse the internet via SITAONAIR’s services.
“Get Connected” reported in January that SITAONAIR’s inflight connectivity suite, including Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir, was being installed as line fit on Qatar Airways’ new Airbus A350s, the first of which was unveiled in Doha.
Future Qatar A350s may be fitted with Inmarsat’s faster Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band system, providing up to 50Mbps, although no firm contract has yet been signed with the carrier.
Honeywell’s MCS-8200 fuselage-mounted antenna is believed to be available as line-fit on the Airbus A350 production line, although the service won’t be available until the first quarter of 2016 and an STC for the A350 has not yet been secured.
Qatar Airways’ A350 also features the new Oryx entertainment system, with up to 2,000 entertainment options on individual screens in all classes.
Qatar Airways was the global launch carrier of the A350 and is the first to fly the aircraft to three continents. The airline’s fleet of seven A350s currently flies twice a day to Frankfurt, daily to Munich and three times a day to Singapore from Doha.
An eighth A350 will join the fleet before the end of the year and is scheduled to fly daily to Philadelphia from January 1, 2016.
As further A350s join the fleet throughout 2016, passengers will have the opportunity to experience the aircraft on flights to Boston launching on March 16, and the new second daily flight to New York from April 1 and Adelaide, Australia from May 2.