Norwegian Rolls Out GX Aviation on 737 Max, 787 Fleet

A Norwegian Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Norwegian

Norwegian is rolling out new satellite-powered connectivity across its fleet of Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliners with the help of Collins Aerospace and Inmarsat.

Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier began offering free access to Wi-Fi onboard its 737 Max fleet in mid-January, and has recently begun flying trans-Atlantic flights with its connected Boeing 787s as well. Norwegian plans to have the majority of its 787 fleet equipped with the Collins Cabin Connect suite of connectivity services by 2020.

“Providing our passengers with the most reliable and robust in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity is very important to us,” said Boris Bubresko, vice president of business development for Norwegian, of their new connected aircraft launch.

The broadband connectivity onboard Norwegian’s connected fleet is provided by the Collins Jetwave satellite communications system. Onboard the aircraft, Colllins installed its CabinConnect server and a number of wireless access points to enable connectivity for Norwegian’s passengers and flight crew, according to LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president and general manager of the Information Management Services division of Collins Aerospace.

“The brains of the system, the onboard server, enables passengers to access locally stored content on their portable devices. These are all standard components, although we host a custom graphical user interface for Norwegian’s passengers to access the onboard systems and content,” Ridgeway said.

Collins’ IMS division is also providing the airtime plan for Norwegian’s service needs related to the operation of GX Aviation.

Ridgeway said Collins is also looking to support Norwegian’s future vision of using broadband connectivity for new cockpit services like electronic flight bag and real-time, high-definition weather to operators. Many of these services will require significant amounts of data to be exchanged between the aircraft and operations, she said.

“Equipping the aircraft with broadband service opens up a new range of opportunities for the airline to leverage the pipe for flight and cabin crew applications,” Ridgeway said. “An example of the type of content that could be delivered is higher definition graphical weather. The benefit of this information is that crews and airline dispatchers can better assess developing weather conditions, especially on long haul flights, and be more prepared to make proactive decisions to flight plan/route changes to save time and fuel costs.”