Aviation Technical Services to equip JetBlue A320s with wi-fi

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JetBlue has tapped Everett, Washington-based Aviation Technical Services (ATS) to outfit its Airbus A320 fleet with equipment to support its new Ka-band satellite connectivity service, "Fly-Fi".

ATS will install the connectivity equipment on up to 130 A320s in Orlando and expects the installations to be complete by the end of 2014. The modification entails installing a new rotating antenna housed in a radome on top of the A320's fuselage.

The work is being performed at JetBlue's subsidiary LiveTV, which developed the technology with California-based satellite operator ViaSat. LiveTV will provide technical training and support during the installations.

"We are pleased to enter into this partnership with ATS, a proven MRO leader who shares our passion and excitement for this project," says Jeff Martin, JetBlue's senior vice-president of operations. "Jointly, we will aggressively modify the majority of our A320 fleet with the Fly-Fi solution while we continue to work with LiveTV to add Ka broadband on-board connectivity to the remainder of our aircraft."

JetBlue has said that it will expand the new wi-fi technology to its Embraer 190 fleet after completing the installations on the A320s.

LiveTV announced on 3 September that it received the supplemental type certificate (STC) to start installing the wi-fi system on its A320 aircraft, which allows JetBlue to start ramping up installations of the equipment across its fleet after temporarily removing an aircraft from operations in June to undergo proving flights of the technology.

ViaSat says that it the Ka-band offering will provide a connection of at least 12Mbps to each passenger using the service.