Delta Air Lines plans to install Aircell's Gogo in-flight broadband system on 17 Boeing 757-200 extended range twin-engine (ETOPS)-certified aircraft.
The decision to equip the 757s with Gogo was taken after Delta decided to reposition the 757s from suspended international routes to transcontinental flights between New York JFK and the west coast.
The carrier says engineering teams have completed installations of Gogo on more than 60% of its pre-merger mainline domestic fleet. It expects to have some 200 aircraft flying with Wi-Fi by the end of this week. Once Delta equips its fleet, it will begin installations of Gogo on merger partner Northwest Airlines' domestic aircraft.
Operated over an air-to-ground (ATG) link, Gogo supports in-flight connectivity on flights over land. However, Aircell is studying a hybrid solution that would allow carriers to offer the ATG-based service domestically and a Ku-band satellite-based offering on overseas flights.
Asked if Delta will use Aircell's planned hybrid offering, a Delta spokesman says: "We are studying international opportunities but for now we are focused on completing installation on our domestic fleets."
Installation of Gogo on the first Delta widebody aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, is nearing completion. The flight test is scheduled to occur on 13 July.
Delta points out that, aside from military aircraft - like the US President's Air Force One aircraft - the 767 will be the largest aircraft in the world in terms of actual size and passenger count to be equipped with broadband in-flight Internet access.
Several international operators offered now-commercially-defunct Connexion by Boeing's high-speed connectivity offering on widebody aircraft in years past. At least one of those former customers, Lufthansa, is trying to reignite broadband service on its overseas flights.