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Qatar Airways On the Way to Starlink Onboard Connection

The carrier's Boeing 777-300ER fleet should see the new technology by Q4 2024

A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Zera)

In the company’s latest press release, Qatar Airways reiterated its goal to install Starlink internet connectivity onboard the carrier’s aircraft.

Implementation On The Way

In October 2023 ,Qatar Airways announced an agreement with Starlink to provide seamless and complimentary Wi-Fi onboard the carrier’s fleet. Now the airline is providing further details about the deal.

The first eye-catching part is the service being complimentary for passengers. It was already announced with the initial release and this is similar to the deals Starlink has with other carriers.

Two further details are completely new and specific to Qatar Airways. The carrier announced the planned date of the introduction and the fleet that will get the technology first.

“Three Boeing 777-300s will be the first aircraft in Qatar Airways’ fleet to be upgraded with Starlink’s game-changing, ultra-high-speed, low-latency Wi-Fi onboard by the last quarter of this year,” the airline said.

Powerful Technology

Satellite internet connectivity creates such a buzz in the aviation world because of the promise of performance. Most of the currently implemented solutions are based on air-to-ground connectivity. That means they rely on an antenna attached to the aircraft that catches the signal from cellphone towers on the ground.

Starlink business branch called Starlink For Aviation outlined quite remarkable performance indicators that should be achievable with its solution. The official website of the provider says that the technology reaches 40-220 MBPS download speed per terminal and 8-25 MBPS upload speed per terminal with a latency of 99 milliseconds.

This means that gaming enthusiasts could be playing multiplayer games onboard that are usually very sensitive to latency. Simultaneously, airlines providing ir-To-ground connectivity usually do not mention performance as the download speed is usually limited to a few MBPS.

Multiple aircraft types are supporting Starlink or are on the way to being certified, including the Airbus A321neo, A220, A320, and A330, along with the Boeing 737, 757, 787, and 777. Aside from the main commercial aircraft, there are also multiple smaller airliners and private jets ready to be equipped.

Airbaltic employees testing Starlink connectivity onboard its Airbus A220 ahead of introducing it to passengers (Photo: Airbaltic)

Other Early Adopters

In February this year, Hawaiian Airlines debuted Starlink onboard its fleet as the first airline in the world. It is particularly significant as per the carrier’s geographical location flying routes over the Pacific Ocean which means other satellite connectivity providers are lacking coverage in those areas.

Other airlines reporting to be on the way to introducing the technology are Air New Zealand, ZIPAIR, and airBaltic. The latter has already reported on performance testing onboard one of its Airbus A220s.

Filip Kopeć

Author

  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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