Transatlantic connections

Low-cost carrier Norwegian adds high speed broadband to its award winning long-haul services

Acclaimed European low-cost airline, Norwegian, has become the latest carrier to implement Inmarsat’s game-changing connectivity service, GX Aviation. The world’s first truly global, high speed broadband network, GX will power Collins Aerospace’s CabinConnect™ solution, enabling Norwegian passengers to experience free and premium Wi-Fi on board its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and 737 MAX long-haul flights.

The partnership is hugely significant for all involved, not least because Norwegian has become the first low-cost airline to introduce free Wi-Fi on intercontinental flights. The airline will offer inflight connectivity to long-haul passengers flying between Europe, USA, South America and Asia.  

Providing our passengers with the most reliable and robust inflight Wi-Fi connectivity is very important to us

The ferry flight for Norwegian’s first connected Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Seattle to Gatwick touched down in December, and with the service destined for the majority of Norwegian’s transatlantic flights, its passengers will experience a vastly enhanced offering. Something that Norwegian’s Vice President, Business Development, Boris Bubresko, was quick to highlight.

“We're an innovative airline that’s introducing brand new long-haul aircraft to our fleet as well as enhancing our global network to meet customer demand,” he said. “Providing our passengers with the most reliable and robust inflight Wi-Fi connectivity is very important to us. We’re delighted to work with Collins which will support our long-haul connectivity needs as we continue to enhance the Norwegian passenger experience globally.”

Philip Balaam, Inmarsat Aviation President, also welcomed this landmark milestone, noting that the GX satellite constellation allowed airlines to offer inflight connectivity that was fast and reliable, matching wi-fi services on the ground.

“Norwegian’s passengers will have access to the highest quality of global, resilient and flexible broadband available in the skies,” he explained. “In the future, we are excited to provide even more value to Norwegian through the continued development of our global satellite network and related hardware.”

The partnership will see more than 50% of Norwegian’s 787-9 Dreamliner fleet offering world-leading IFC by 2020. The Wi-Fi offering on the 737 MAX fleet will begin in mid-January 2019. Line fit and retro fit installation will take place throughout 2019.

Norwegian 737 MAX at Edinburgh Airport

Two inflight Wi-Fi packages - Basic and Premium - will be on offer for Norwegian Economy and Premium passengers.

Basic

This option is free and will allow passengers to browse the web, use social media, send and receive emails and instant messages on their personal devices for the duration of the flight.

Premium

High-speed Wi-Fi, fast enough to stream music, movies and TV, will be available at an introductory price of  $14.95/€12.95 (customers can choose their currency) for a three-hour package.

The project forms part of Norwegian’s ambitious digital agenda. It has previously expressed plans to move to a fully connected fleet, which alongside enhanced safety enhancements will also provide additional operational efficiencies. This is in line with the findings of the second chapter of the Sky High Economics survey, the London School of Economics’ report – in partnership with Inmarsat – that found IFC could save the airline industry up to $15bn a year.

Making the best better

These operational benefits of inflight connectivity were not lost on LeAnn Ridgeway, Vice President and General Manager, Information Management Services for Collins Aerospace, who said providing the airline with the latest in state-of-the-art connectivity was key to the deal.

“Our ability to address both Norwegian’s cabin and flight deck requirements with a combination of industry-leading services and hardware provides the airline with a seamless solution,” she said. “We are collaborating with Norwegian to achieve their vision of optimising its aircraft and enterprise operations as well as integrating new capabilities going forward.”

The news comes at the end of a satisfying few months for Norwegian, the fifth largest low-cost airline in the world. Alongside being named Europe’s Best Low-Cost Airline and the World's Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline at the 2018 Skytrax Awards, it announced a number of new long-haul flights, including the first low-cost flights from the UK to Brazil.

The deal also caps a momentous beginning for Collins Aerospace. The company was formed in 2018, after the much-heralded merger of UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins. Rockwell Collins has also long been a trusted partner to Inmarsat by supplying the ground-breaking service GX Aviation to airlines, and this latest announcement is a clear indicator of the continued success of ‘Team GX’.