AIX: Atlantic Airways showcases AirFi connectivity

An Air Atlantic Airbus.Faroe Islands-based Atlantic Airways is using AirFi LEO, the company’s first in-flight connectivity service.

AirFi LEO connects the AirFi Venus portable wireless IFE system to the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation through a low-profile antenna, delivering a relatively low-bandwidth satellite link.

Speaking at the 2019 Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg, Johanna A Bergi, CEO, Atlantic Airways: “The real mission of Atlantic Airways is to connect the Faroe Islands with the world.

Johanna A Bergi, CEO, Atlantic Airways
Johanna A Bergi, CEO, Atlantic Airways.

“The Faroe Islands with a population of 50,000 people is part of Denmark and comprises 18 different islands. I once had a mission to have a golf course with one hole on each island!” Bergi said.

“Our philosophy is that we have a one class cabin and we want everyone to have the same experience. We made an agreement with AirFi in late 2018. We are very pleased to be the launch customer for AirFi LEO,” she said.

Bergi added: “Passengers can message their friends and families at 35,000 feet, check their social media feeds and complete last-minute transactions like renting a car or booking a hotel room, from the comfort of their aircraft seat.

“We upload content every time to are on the ground, so we always have the latest news.”

AirFi says the global coverage provided by Iridium’s NEXT constellation is also important to Atlantic Airways, given its hub’s northern position on the globe. While geostationary (GEO) satellites do cover the region and routes, the low earth orbit (LEO) satellites remove any chance of a gap on flight routes.

The Iridium satellite network comprises 66 cross-linked satellites that create a web of coverage around the entire planet.

Unlike other satellite systems, Iridium says its cross-linked architecture enables real-time transit of data to and from any location on the globe without the need for abundant ground stations and allows it to maintain consistent, high-quality coverage, including over the oceans and polar regions.

Iridium completed its $3bn NEXT satellite network in February 2019. It says it intends to upgrade the per-channel speed of NEXT from 352kbps to 700kps later this year, increasing throughput without requiring any hardware changes on the antenna or client.

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