The other day I blogged about a delay in Alaska Airlines’ trial of Row 44′s Ku band-based connectivity system, as well as some opposition the California firm has faced in its pursuit of FCC permanent approval, including from ViaSat, Arinc and Boeing (oh my).
Row 44 president Gregg Fialcowitz was kind enough to respond with comment. While he hasn’t yet addressed ViaSat’s filings to the FCC, Gregg does add serious colour to the story.
I’ve fashioned his comments into an article now running on Flight. Below you’ll find the text of Gregg’s full response, including his revelation that installation of the Row 44 system will occur on a Southwest 737 on 16 December, and that the system is now being flight-tested in US airspace on the company’s Albatross testbed! Meanwhile, here’s what happens when you try to stick your head out of a flying Albatross. It’s a hairy situation.
“The Alaska trial was indeed scheduled for September/October, however, we encountered some late-breaking delays with the final certification of parts by one of our suppliers.
We were able to work to assist the supplier, but this extra effort caused a delay to our trials. However, those issues are behind us and we successfully completed our first Alaska Airlines installation several weeks ago.
If you recall, we’ve broken our installation into two separate STCs: one for the components/wiring inside the aircraft and a second for the external components (i.e., ring, radome, antenna, etc.).
The STC for the inside of the aircraft was issued several weeks ago, but the second STC didn’t issue until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Because of Alaska’s busy holiday season, the trial aircraft had to be returned to service before the second STC was granted. We expect to reinstall the external components after the holidays and commence the trial at that point. Alaska still intends to move forward with a single aircraft trial ahead of the fleet-wide deployment.
We’ve received PMA for the LRUs and expect to receive PMA on the external components in time to begin installation on the first Southwest trial aircraft on the 16th of this month. Southwest intends to trial four aircraft ahead of a fleet-wide deployment.
We don’t have definitive durations for the trials for either ASA or SWA, but we anticipate around 30+ days.
So, in summary, we’ve received our STCs and we’re good to go. We’ve also received our FCC approval for the trials and have been flying the Albatross all over the place testing and showing off the system/service in flight.
We’re presently operating in the U.S. under a temporary FCC license and expect our permanent license shortly. We’ve already received our permanent licenses to operate in Canada and Mexico.”