Cathay Pacific Takes The First A321neo Delivered With Intelsat WiFi

Intelsat’s acquisition of Gogo’s Commercial Aviation arm has reached a new milestone, as the first A320 family aircraft factory fitted with 2Ku technology has been rolled out. The first line-fit Arbus was an A321neo for Cathay Pacific, a new type for the airline.

Cathay Pacific A321neo
Cathay’s A321neo is the first to fly with line fitted Intelsat 2Ku connectivity. Photo: Intelsat

Cathay’s A321neo first to be factory fitted with 2Ku

The takeover of Gogo’s commercial aviation arm by Intelsat has reached a key milestone this week, as the new owner has delivered the first Airbus A320 family jet to be factory fitted with its 2Ku product. The A321neo had 2Ku technology installed by Airbus in Hamburg, ahead of delivery to Cathay Pacific.

The A321neo is a new addition to the Cathay fleet and will enter service on August 4th. The inaugural flight will be from Hong Kong to Shanghai Pudong, with further short-haul routes to follow. The airline has already taken delivery of four of the type, and will add another two before the end of the year. By the end of 2023, it plans to operate a fleet of 16.

Vivian Lo, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of customer experience and design, commented,

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with Intelsat to the A321neo fleet, adding to the fully connected long-haul fleet and regional wide-body aircraft already flying with Wi-Fi.

“Having these new short-haul aircraft connected is essential in the modern world for business and leisure travel alike. As a premium service carrier, Cathay Pacific is determined to innovate and elevate the short-haul flying experience by offering connectivity, seatback 4K inflight entertainment and Bluetooth headphone pairing on our new state-of-the-art A321neo fleet.”

Cathay A321neo
Cathay’s A321neos will be the first to offer 4K IFE. Photo: Cathay Pacific

The A321neos fly with 12 business class and 190 economy class seats. It will be the first passenger plane in the world to offer 4K video-on-demand and is following the trend for Bluetooth headphone pairing. Customers will be able to stream audio feeds to their own Bluetooth-enabled headphones, something that has been high on the priority list for many travelers in the past.

Cathay A321neo bluetooth connectivity
Passengers will eventually be able to pair their personal headphones via Bluetooth to the IFE. Photo: Cathay Pacific

What difference does linefit make?

For a supplier like Intelsat, being approved to have its products factory fitted comes with a wealth of benefits. Having the technology installed during production means airline customers receive their new aircraft exactly as they want it, with no further fettling necessary to begin operations. There will still be some minor adjustments, such as installing signage and safety cards to be done, but the aircraft is essentially ready to fly.

Back when 2Ku was still under Gogo management, the company had provisionable rights on Boeing’s 737NG aircraft for several years. This means that the company’s products were installed to a point on the NG line, but some Gogo mechanic intervention was required to install the final components.

In 2017, Gogo was selected by Airbus to become a supplier under its High Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) program. This gave it the ability to have products line fitted on the A320 family, A330 and A380 aircraft. Full line fit means everything this done, and no further intervention from Gogo engineers is required.

Airbus Hamburg
Having the technology installed as the aircraft is built saves time and hassle for both the airline and the supplier. Photo: Airbus

However, until now, no aircraft have been delivered with the system installed. Cathay’s is the first, and to have the inaugural installation on an Airbus new technology A321neo is a major milestone for the supplier.

Dave Bijur, senior vice president of commercial for Intelsat’s Commercial Aviation business division, commented,

“We’re honored to work with Airbus and Cathay Pacific to create this substantial catalog offering. Being part of the world’s largest satellite company creates a great opportunity to expand the services we offer and the fleets we serve. We have been working with Airbus to deliver linefit aircraft, and are pleased to now make that a reality.”

It seems confidence in the 2Ku product has only excelled with the takeover by Intelsat. With the technology now available ready and working straight from the factory, expect to see a few more A320 family aircraft emerging with the 2Ku solution onboard soon.


Cathay Pacific Takes The First A321neo Delivered With Intelsat WiFi

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