Updated July 29, 2014
With a project that began in 2013, we’ve been hard at work installing satellite Wi-Fi throughout our fleet. In fact, we’ve now outfitted over 280 aircraft to offer global access on our long-haul international fleet and a superior experience on our domestic fleet. This is an important milestone given the complexity of the technology, the costs involved and the time-consuming nature of the installation itself.
Here’s an update on our progress:
Satellite Wi-Fi installation on our Airbus A320s, A319s, Boeing 757s and Boeing 747s are complete, and the first Wi-Fi-equipped international Boeing 777 began flying in early March. We plan to have Wi-Fi installed on more than half the planned fleet this summer, with installations largely complete by the end of 2014. More than one third of 737-900ERs are completed, with more being updated every day. It is important to note, however, that some of our new 737-900ERs were delivered last year with no Wi-Fi or inflight entertainment options, in anticipation of the Wi-Fi system being installed across the fleet. These aircraft will first have Wi-Fi installed, followed soon after by personal device entertainment.
To determine if you are on a flight that offers United Wi-FiSM
, check the Inflight Amenities tab of the Flight Status & Information
or on our mobile app
, look for the Wi-Fi logo on the side of the plane or listen for an announcement by the flight crew. For the most up-to-date information on Wi-Fi availability, please visit united.com/Wi-Fi
Take a look at the steps involved in preparing our planes to deliver Internet connectivity in the skies.
As we mentioned earlier, the process of adding satellite Wi-Fi to our planes is a time-consuming and complex one. Here’s what happens over our nine-day installation process as we move from blueprint to outfitted plane.
Day 1: Pre-build outside the aircraft and inside preparations begin: we assemble access platforms, and inventory installation parts and separate them from the pre-built kits to install them in the plane.
Day 2: We continue with the pre-build process, with a focus on wiring of bundles: taking groups of wires that will be run together, combining them into harness, cutting the necessary length outside the aircraft, and then taking the final length into the plane to run from point to point. We build the GCS rack – which is the platform for the two boxes and fan that represent the “brains” of the system – outside the plane before we mount it inside.
Days 3 and 4: The intricate process of wiring into the avionics compartment begins, and we start drilling on the radome, both inside and out. We begin modifications to the antenna power box mounting and start drilling and mounting sheet metal components in cabin interiors and the wiring in the fuselage.
Day 4: Installation in the cargo compartment commences; the cargo compartment contains the GCS rack.
Day 5: Sheet metal assembly begins in the galley and video-storage compartment. A power panel in the galley contains all the circuit breakers used to power and depower both the entire system and the individual components. The video stowage compartment contains the crew panel to monitor the system and the switchbox to allow loading of software from the cabin as well as control over the system.
Days 6 and 7: We finalize the antenna and radome installation.
Day 8: We check the airplane’s electrical integrity. This process, known as the “ring out,” involves sending electrical power through the wires, one at a time, to ensure the signal transmits across the same wire on the other end and to confirm that all wires are hooked up properly.
Day 9: We power on all the electrical components of the airplane and implement the software installation. After the software is loaded, we take the plane outside for an operational check of the system, connecting to the satellite and towing the plane around our maintenance area to ensure it tracks the satellite successfully. We also perform operational checks of all systems on the plane.
We expect to complete this project by the end of 2015.