I realize that even with all the latest technological advancements a plane with great in-flight Wi-Fi seems a bit Sci-Fi (pun intended). But it’s true. Honeywell is testing a customized Boeing 757 with satellite connectivity that would allow us to freely use Wi-Fi during flights with no restrictions.
The plane includes HoneyWell’s JetWave hardware that also offers predictive analytics for pilots, on top of an amazing Wi-Fi connection.
Most in-flight Wi-Fi uses an air-to-ground system which can offer a spotty connection between coverage areas and is not a reliable solution for international flights. The Honeywell test plane is equipped with an antenna that allows it to establish a direct connection with satellites and this system can maintain the connection even over water, so it actually works for international flights.
Honeywell’s test plane with great in-flight Wi-Fi has a satellite connection
You’re probably wondering, how fast is the in-flight Wi-Fi? According to Honeywell’s engineers, the maximum bandwidth that can be achieved onboard is 50 Mbps but in reality you’re getting about 30 Mbps. Even then, the bandwidth might shrink depending on how many people are connected and also the upload is definitely below the download speed.
Even so, you can still use it to Skype someone or watch Netflix. And this is just the beginning. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines are already implementing this technology on some of their air crafts. Also, it seems like installing this new tech on air crafts that had older systems takes about 3 days which is certainly not too bad.
So when will get it?
Honeywell didn’t get into specifics regarding which US airlines are adopting the new technology but they did say consumers should start seeing it within 12 to 18 months.
Moreover, the satellite connection isn’t used simply to give travelers faster Wi-Fi. It’s also used by the plane’s radar to collect information from weather radar systems on other planes to detect upcoming turbulences allowing pilots to ask for weather updates from other planes or air traffic control less often.
On top of that, pilots are using it to access apps that calculate an optimized flight path using the plane’s collected data which can help lower fuel costs. Even the plane’s brake system can use Wi-Fi and become a “connected brake”. This way, aircraft maintenance staff will be announced when the brake system starts to wear down so they can replace it in time instead of having to perform manual visual inspections.