Global Eagle says it is close to finishing off its Airconnect Ku-band inflight connectivity installs aboard the flydubai Boeing 737-800 fleet.
Josh Marks, Global Eagle’s Executive Vice President, Aviation Connectivity, said 47 of the 50 total aircraft had now been equipped.
He said that work was now under way to see how the system was being used.
“It is now about understanding the demographics of how the inflight connectivity is being utilised and how that varies on both business and leisure routes,” Marks said.
“The undoubted sweet spot for take-up by business users is on flights of about one and a half to two hours long, but we are looking at how that varies across long, short and medium-haul flights.”
He said flydubai has routes that offer flight durations ranging from around one hour to six or seven (to Asia).
Marks said that Ku-band satellite airtime costs are dropping and take rates are climbing, but “not exponentially”. He said there are many use cases for inflight connectivity, but quite what the industry will look like in 2020 compared with today no one really knows.
“There are financial constraints to providing connectivity to the whole aircraft, but no-one has seen the density of usage across fleets quite like we have,” Marks said. “It is a learning curve and there are many options airlines need to think about in terms of how they monetise their inflight connectivity offering.”
He said Global Eagle’s focus is helping airlines make money, increase their ancillary revenues and giving passengers what they want.
Marks also said Global Eagle’s three-axis Ku-band antenna, being developed with Germany’s QEST, is close to gaining an STC, presumably on the Boeing 737.
Unveiled at AIX in 2015, GEE/QEST claims the Global Ku antenna offers consistent high-performance at a far greater range of elevation and skew angles than competitive systems.
The new antenna was designed to take full advantage of the high-speed performance offered by the latest generation of Ku-band High Throughput Satellites (HTS).