Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines takes off with Intelsat for enhanced in-flight connectivity

Leading aircraft manufacturer to complete satellite communications company’s electronically steered array factory installation on latest generations of 737 aircraft boasting wide coverage and low latency.

After ending 2023 with deals to include 100 additional aircraft equipped for Wi-Fi using new antenna and expansions with other connectivity firms, Intelsat has been selected by Japan Airlines to provide multi-orbit in-flight connectivity service on more than 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be delivered in the coming years. 

Established in 1951 and a leading member of the oneworld Alliance, Japan Airlines (JAL) was its home country’s first private aviation company. As of March 2024, it operated a fleet of 227 aircraft and had begun to renew its international long-haul aircraft with the Airbus A350-1000.

Together with other JAL Group and partner airlines, JAL offers a domestic and international network that serves 376 airports across 64 countries and regions. The airline has received accolades for its service, including being recognised as a certified 5-Star Airline by Skytrax and being awarded the prestigious World Class Airline title by the Airline Passenger Experience Association.

In its efforts to maintain service levels, the airline will become one of the first in the Asia-Pacific region to offer a reliable, multi-orbit service using Intelsat’s new electronically steered array (ESA) antenna. 

The service will be installed by Boeing in the factory, making JAL one of the first airlines to take delivery of a Boeing aircraft with ESA in-flight service ready for immediate passenger use. The first linefit aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2026. The Intelsat ESA is less than 7cm tall and interoperates on both Intelsat’s family of geostationary satellites and its partner’s constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. 

In addition to JAL’s Boeing 737s and 767s flying with 2Ku service, JAL’s subsidiary airline, J-AIR Co, is currently installing Intelsat’s 2Ku system on the carrier’s fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft. J-AIR will complete installation of the 2Ku system on 14 E190s in the coming months and when completed, J-AIR will be the first regional airline in Japan to offer in-flight entertainment and connectivity services.

Remarking on what the deployment would mean, Junko Sakihara, deputy senior vice-president of the customer experience division at Japan Airlines, said: “Intelsat has been a trusted partner of JAL since 2013. We are proud to have been among the first airlines in the world to offer free service for all passengers flying on our domestic routes starting in 2017 and look forward to the greater speed and reliability benefits the new multi-orbit service will bring to our customers.”

Dave Bijur, senior vice president for commercial aviation at Intelsat, added: “Japan Airlines’ passengers will soon benefit from multi-orbit connectivity that will provide the same fast and dependable internet access they enjoy at home, thanks to wide coverage and low latency. JAL was Intelsat’s first non-US commercial aviation customer, and we look forward to continuing to support JAL’s market-leading in-flight connectivity service in Japan where their guests enjoy free service.”

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