(BIVN) – Hawaiian Airlines announced Thursday that it has become “the world’s first major carrier” to deploy Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency broadband internet on flights.
The company reports the Wi-Fi internet service was rolled-out onboard an Airbus A321neo, N228HA, which flew from Honolulu to Long Beach. The service will be available on select A321neo aircraft, and will be “complimentary and available the moment guests step onboard the aircraft – without tedious registration pages and clunky payment portals,” the airline says.
“In marrying this best-in-class technology with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality, we are offering our guests a travel experience unlike any other airline flying to and from the Hawaiian Islands,” said Chris Liebertz, senior director of engineering at Hawaiian Airlines.
From a Hawaiian Airlines news release:
A Test of Strength
The speed of Hawaiian’s new in-flight internet service allows streaming, gaming and other connected experiences often enjoyed at home – even while traversing the farthest reaches of the Pacific Ocean.
“Starlink’s self-designed aviation terminal installed on Hawaiian’s aircraft allows each plane to receive strong, fast internet signals from the satellites orbiting above Earth,” said Will Seidel, director of Starlink engineering at SpaceX. “The terminal will seamlessly switch connections from satellite to satellite as planes cross the Pacific, providing an uninterrupted internet experience for passengers.”
To ensure high performance, Hawaiian and Starlink conducted tests, including live flights to evaluate connectivity under different conditions and identify opportunities to improve user experience.
“During these tests, employees streamed shows and movies, played video games with friends, downloaded and uploaded large files, worked in real time, and scrolled on social media,” Liebertz explained. “Each assessment then allowed us to fine-tune the service to the high-performance level for which Starlink is known.”
Rolling Out the Service
Before the public launch, Hawaiian and Starlink “worked alongside the FAA to verify that our aviation terminal (antenna) met strict safety standards,” Seidel explained.
“When we finished our tests on the ground and in-flight on the first A321neo, the FAA certified Starlink for use on the rest of Hawaiian’s A321neo fleet – as well as any other A321neo,” he added.
Hawaiian is working with Starlink to roll out the technology across its long-haul fleet. The carrier expects to install and activate antennas on all its 18 A321neo aircraft by spring, followed by its A330s by the end of the year, and later its new flagship aircraft, the Boeing 787-9. Until it is available fleetwide, the service will surprise and delight guests as they board their flights.
For employees like Liebertz, who has been close to the project since before it was announced in April 2022, the launch was a momentous occasion.
“Today marks a huge milestone not just for my team but for both companies. It has been an incredible journey working with the Starlink team to get our A321neos equipped with this exceptional service,” Liebertz explained.
“I’m looking forward to my next flight so I can join our guests in experiencing how game-changing this technology will be for aviation.”