Delta aims for Wi-Fi fleetwide by year-end 2010

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Delta Air Lines continues to press ahead with Wi-Fi equipage on aircraft for its combined fleet with Northwest after the carriers concluded their merger in October of last year.

The airline projects more than 500 aircraft should be Wi-Fi-enabled by the end of 2010, split between 300-plus pre-merger Delta aircraft and roughly 200 from the pre-merger Northwest fleet.

Delta is close to equipping 75% of its pre-merger fleet, and remains on schedule to complete the installations by the end of September, a Delta spokesman says, adding that total pre-merger Delta equipage will be between 315 and 320 aircraft.

US regulators issued a supplemental type certificate for pre-merger Delta Boeing 767-300 aircraft on 24 August.

Wi-Fi equipment installation on the 737-700 prototype is planned during the first half of September while paperwork and parts for the 757 extended range twin-engine (ETOPS)-certified prototype will be ready by 25 September, Delta senior product manager of in-flight entertainment Chris Babb says in the Delta blog.

In addition to outfitting pre-merger Delta aircraft with Aircell's Gogo Internet, the SkyTeam alliance member will install equipment to support Wi-Fi on roughly 200 pre-merger Northwest aircraft by the end of next year.

Installation on pre-merger Northwest aircraft will begin after pre-merger Delta fleet equipage is complete, explains Delta's spokesman.

Delta completed a preliminary design review for Northwest's pre-merger 757-200s on 18 August. During the design phase, the airline determines how a particular aircraft type will be outfitted along with the location of equipment to support Wi-Fi use, the carrier's spokesman explains.

Delta also plans to conclude final design review for the 757-300 fleet on 27 August, Babb says, adding that the prototype will be modified on 1 November at Minneapolis-St. Paul.

In the meantime, critical design review for the DC9-50 is set for 8 October.

With the design phase for all of Northwest's pre-merger Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft complete, the aircraft prototypes will undergo modification on 1 October and 19 October, respectively, at Minneapolis-St. Paul. The installation takes about 24 hours.