JetBlue aims for first wi-fi flight in mid-2013

Washington DC
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New York-based JetBlue aims to conduct its first Ka-band wi-fi equipped revenue flight around mid-2013.

"We are hopeful it will be mid-year... during the summer timeframe," the airline's chief executive Dave Barger tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit today.

The carrier is conducting ground testing of the wi-fi capability with its partners LiveTV and ViaSat on an Airbus A320, as it works with the US Federal Aviation Administration to get Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for the wi-fi equipped aircraft.

Barger says the airline hopes to conduct flight testing with the aircraft in April. The carrier aims to complete the STC process with its A320 fleet first before moving on to its Embraer 190s, he adds.

"We are going to be aggressive about the deployment," says Barger, although he declines to specify the number of aircraft that will be equipped with wi-fi by the end of the year.

JetBlue has said it aims to offer the wi-fi product, called Fly-fi, to most customers for free.