Inmarsat has obtained EASA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its GX Aviation retrofit installations on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777 fleet.
The STC follows an announcement in June that Qatar Airways will be the first Middle Eastern carrier to offer the Ka-band GX Aviation inflight connectivity service to passengers on more than 130 of its aircraft.
The European Aviation Safety Agency STC covers the GX Aviation terminal installation, wiring and placement of Wireless Access Points and servers on-board the aircraft.
GX Aviation has already been equipped as line-fit and is awaiting system activation on Qatar Airways’ latest Airbus A350s, and following the STC approval, installations have now begun on a retrofit basis across the airline’s Boeing 777 fleet.
The retrofits will be undertaken by Qatar Airways maintenance teams during scheduled C-check maintenance windows.
Ben Griffin, Inmarsat Aviation’s Vice President, Middle East, Africa and South Asia, said: “There are 40 Qatar Boeing 777s to be retrofitted with GX, plus a further 10 still to be delivered.
“There are also 80 Airbus A350s that will arrive with GX as line-fit, with a further 15 A350s that will be retrofitted with the equipment.”
He said the retrofit operations take around three to four days to complete and are being scheduled with existing maintenance checks. Griffin said aircraft roll-outs would be “as soon as possible”.
Qatar had hinted in June that more of its global fleet might be retrofitted with GX, but there has been no further news on what these aircraft might be. Inmarsat confirmed that STC work on other platforms is ongoing.
At the moment the only Airbus A380s that are confirmed to be equipped with GX belong to Singapore Airlines.
The GX inflight connectivity service is expected to go live on Qatar Airways aircraft later this year, following an inflight test campaign across its global flight routes.
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “This is the first STC to be attained and managed solely by our team at Inmarsat, and taking this momentous step with one of the world’s leading carriers has strengthened our position as a key player in the inflight connectivity market.”
Mondale continued: “With GX Aviation already equipped on Qatar Airways’ latest Airbus A350s, the first Boeing 777 retrofit installation already complete and several more under way, we are now gearing up to launch GX Aviation across the flagship fleet.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Qatar Airways’ passengers experience consistent, reliable and high-speed Wi-Fi in the sky when the service goes live later this year.”
The fleet will use Inmarsat’s Advanced Integrated Services Manager (AISM), integrating with Thales Group’s inflight systems to offer passengers inflight live TV streaming.
Honeywell Aerospace’s high-speed JetWave terminals will allow aircraft to connect to the GX Aviation network, while EAD Aerospace is providing its SUMS (SATCOM Universal Mounting System) installation solution and the associated engineering package.
EAD Aerospace was also heavily involved with the B777 STC work.