How Are Our Boeing 777s Fitted With WiFi?

Ever wondered how an aircraft flying at 38,000ft across the Pacific accesses WiFi?

We sat down with a couple of our engineering experts to find out the nuts and bolts of it all... 

 

How do our aircraft receive WiFi signals whilst flying across the Pacific Ocean?

The 2Ku Gogo system is a KU band satellite system, linking the aircraft to satellites orbiting above the earth at approximately 22,500 miles, and then reconnecting to earth-based stations to link to the Internet. 2Ku uses dual-antenna technology; one for the upward (receive) link to the aircraft, the other for the downward (return) link to the ground. From the antennae, cables are run to wireless access points (WAP’s) located throughout the cabin. When guests connect to the WAP from their devices, signals are passed to and from their devices via the WAP, antennae, satellites and ground stations.

 

How much wiring was required for each 777 aircraft?

For each of our Boeing 777 aircraft, approximately 17 kilometres of wiring is installed for the 2Ku system. Across the five 777’s in our fleet, that’s a total of 85 kilometres of wiring!

 

Throughout the aircraft, how many wireless points are there? Where are they positioned and why in these particular places?

There are six wireless points on each Boeing 777 aircraft (as shown in the below diagram), whereas there are four wireless points on our Boeing 737 aircraft – given its considerably smaller in size. WAP’s are located in the ceiling cavity along the length of the cabin and are spaced relatively evenly to provide the best signal strength to guests throughout all cabin classes.

 

On average, how long did it take to fit out each individual aircraft and how many engineers were required to assist with the fit out process?

A typical install is approximately 900 hours of labour. This is comprised of two nine-person engineering teams, working 4 shifts each (4 days and 4 nights to install). These 18 staff comprise of structural, avionic and mechanical engineers.

 

What is the most time consuming process of the WiFi install? How long does that process take?

It would have to be the installation of the antennae, associated structural work and radome. Approximately 65% of the total WiFi implementation on each 777 aircraft was doing this specific part of the installation!

 

We noticed there was a device being installed on top of the 777 fuselage. Could you please explain what that was and how it works?

The device you saw is called the Adapter Plate. It is the device that structurally connects to the aircraft so that the antennae and radome can be installed on the aircraft safely. There are attachments placed on the aircraft skin (called lugs) which the adapter plate is secured in place with, which can be seen in the graphic below. The antennae are then installed and the radome is placed over the top.

 

Guests can now enjoy in-flight WiFi on all Virgin Australia flights between Australia and Los Angeles. Book holiday packages and flights to Los Angeles from any major city through our website or by calling 13 67 89 (in Australia).

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