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Connectivity

Connecting in China The race to connect aircraft in aviation’s fastest-growing market has begun. by Howard Slutsken illustration Nicolás Venturelli

The Chinese airline market continues to see double-digit growth in domestic and international passenger traffic, with thousands of aircraft needed to meet the demand over the next 20 years. According to Boeing, the Chinese domestic airline market is expected to become the world’s largest. With this onslaught of new travelers comes the need for Chinese airlines to provide in-flight connectivity on par with the rest of the world. Although the regulatory process has so far moved at a deliberate rate, recent announcements suggest that more passengers on Chinese airlines will soon be online. Airline Passenger Experience Association

In May 2015, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology approved in-flight connectivity testing and service qualification. Since then, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines have begun in-flight connectivity operations, with more airlines expected to soon follow. Panasonic Avionics, Gogo, Inmarsat, Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) and Thales are just some of the providers reported to have agreements in place for the initial ramp-up of service. But it’s early days, with merely a few dozen Chinese airliners now able to connect. “We have two programs going on,” says Mike Douglass, senior vice-president, Global Sales for GEE. “We had a trial of live TV on one of Air China’s B777s in the fall [2015], and in May, we started a full trial of connectivity on that B777. In late summer or early fall [this year], that trial will also carry over to a B737.” GEE will also equip five aircraft for each of Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines for the initial phase of connectivity operations.

For more connectivity news, visit > APEX.AERO/ CONNECTIVITY

Fifty-seven percent of passengers in China don’t have the option of in-flight Wi-Fi. Source: Inmarsat’s “Inflight Connectivity Survey,” 2016

Reflecting the Chinese government’s approach to the Internet, Douglass says GEE can meet the requirements of the market. “We have the technology that can restrict certain sites and restrict certain components, so from a technology perspective, it’s very doable. It’s really up to the government how they want to monitor and restrict access, but our technology can handle that.” volume 6, edition 3

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APEX Experience 6.3 June/July  

This issue, colored LEDs, YouTube and TV box sets entertain us en route to summer destinations. At the airport, beacons beckon and GPS ensur...

APEX Experience 6.3 June/July  

This issue, colored LEDs, YouTube and TV box sets entertain us en route to summer destinations. At the airport, beacons beckon and GPS ensur...

Profile for spafax