Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) has received a vendor Supplemental Type Certificate (vSTC) from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to install its Airconnect satellite connectivity system on Boeing 737 Next Generation (B737NG) aircraft in China.
Airconnect is GEE’s Ku-band satellite-based broadband internet connectivity system.
GEE says it is the first major aircraft satellite connectivity service provider to receive CAAC approval on the Boeing 737 platform, representing a critical milestone for aviation connectivity development in China.
GEE has pursued a long-term growth programme in China, including the establishment of a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) and GEE’s China Technology Centre.
It says this includes local engineering and software development teams; innovative and new revenue generating services that meet local regulations; partnerships with Chinese media and advertising firms; and the establishment of multiple teleports with leading Chinese telecommunications partners.
The B737 is the backbone of Chinese air networks, with more than 1,000 Chinese-registered B737 in service and an additional 500 on order.
Today, the B737 accounts for more than 40 percent of all passenger aircraft operated by airlines based in the country.
In 2016, GEE received CAAC approval for Boeing 777 installations and commenced an inflight connectivity and entertainment commercial trial under license from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
With this new CAAC-approved 737NG vSTC, GEE is able to expand to fleet operations with all Chinese B777 and B737NG operators.
CAAC approval also facilitates installations of GEE’s Airconnect product on HNA Group’s Hainan Airlines and Yangtze Airlines as part of GEE’s joint venture with Beijing Shareco, once that JV launches.
Joshua Marks, Executive Vice President of Aviation at GEE, said: “Approval of Airconnect for installation on B737NG’s represents a critical milestone for GEE’s expansion in the rapidly growing China market.
“B737NGs are the most popular aircraft operated by Chinese passenger airlines.
“With the approval of our Airconnect satellite-based connectivity system, GEE is well-positioned to accelerate access to its high quality in-flight connectivity across the Chinese market by supporting the 737 in both retrofit and line-fit configurations.”
Jeff Leddy, Chief Executive Officer of GEE, said: “We are thrilled about the new opportunities for GEE to work closely with our Chinese partners to provide passengers with superior IFEC solutions.
“GEE is also pursuing vSTC authority for Airbus 320s, which account for an additional 30% of the Chinese commercial aviation market. These CAAC approvals enable us to act quickly in the Chinese market and accelerate our product deployments in the region.”
GEE’s Airconnect system allows live streaming of Chinese-language television stations, video-on-demand with Hollywood and Chinese content, games, advertiser-sponsored content, destination guides and moving maps.
GEE says Airconnect is the first in China to offer full-cabin television streaming and joint advertising.