While flying with connectivity isn’t something new in the U.S., another giant country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean has been waiting for this dream to come true. Recently, China Eastern Airlines received its first Wi-Fi service operational permit from local officials and announced it will start to offer inflight Wi-Fi services in its widebody aircraft for long-haul routes. This definitely signifies a key milestone for China’s commercial aviation industry. Flying to China with connectivity is no longer a dream for us.
Honeywell Aerospace’s 2013 global connectivity survey shows more than three in four of those surveyed think wireless access should always be available on airplanes. Almost 90 percent would give up an amenity on their flight — preferred seats, extra legroom and more — to be guaranteed a faster and more consistent wireless connection.
China is an important growth market for the aviation industry as its regulations continue to undergo liberalization. The Civil Aviation Administration of China indicates that around 390 million domestic passengers took flights in 2014, spending about 1 billion hours in the air. Its air travel increased by 11.7 percent in 2013, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that by 2017, China will see an additional 227.4 million passengers. About 195 million will be domestic, while 32.4 million will be international travelers.
In 2014, Honeywell signed a memorandum of understanding with Air China to begin testing Honeywell’s GX Aviation on the airline’s A330 aircraft. Air China is expected to be the first airline equipped with GX Aviation, which takes in-flight connectivity to the next level by providing true broadband speed for global in-flight wi-fi.