After a short delay and a whole bunch of testing, Qantas's first domestic jet with onboard Wi-Fi is set to take to the skies on regular passenger service. It's the first plane of Qantas's entire domestic and international short-haul fleet to be hooked up, but the rest will follow in short order.
Tested already on Qantas's key domestic corridors between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as out towards Alice Springs, the first plane — registration number VH-XZB — will enter regular passenger routes from Friday afternoon. An hour-long demonstration flight for media is planned for Friday morning — we'll be there — but the free Wi-Fi will be switched on for all customers on any subsequent flight.
In the middle of the year, Qantas will begin installing the hardware necessary for inflight Wi-Fi on 80 of its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330 domestic jets. It's still calling the first installation a beta test, and will continue to refine the quality of the connection in coming months.
Qantas's partner ViaSat sent technicians on several flights to make adjustments to in-flight internet access in real time throughout its testing, and most recently a test flight with over 100 devices connected went off without a hitch.
Wi-Fi and inflight internet is going to be useful for passengers, but it'll be even moreso for the flight deck, where pilots and first officers will use it to track weather and update flight planning in real time.
We'll be in the first flight of Qantas's Wi-Fi-enabled 737 tomorrow morning, and we'll be filing stories and working away like usual — if the 'net is up to snuff, at least. If you want to keep track of our journey you can follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Qantas' fast, free in-flight Wi-Fi is still a few weeks away from its real-world debut, but it's passed its first proper test with flying colours. A test flight filled with Qantas volunteer staff designed to stress the Aussie carrier's inflight Wi-Fi to its breaking point has delivered impressive results.
Wi-fi enabled domestic Qantas flights are getting some pretty sweet entertainment options later this month - Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify, to be exact - with the rest of the fleet to follow suit "from mid-2017".
The first Qantas aircraft with inflight wi-fi — that Australia's national carrier airline plans to offer for free — is already up and flying commercial service around the country, but you can't browse the 'net from your economy seat just yet. Testing of the service is still underway, and it'll be switched on for public consumption early next year.