China’s first aircraft with homegrown high-speed satellite internet system makes maiden flight



China’s first aircraft fitted with a homegrown high-speed satellite internet system successfully completed its maiden flight on Tuesday, official media here reported on Wednesday.

The system was tested on Qingdao Airlines flight QW9771 which took off from Qingdao Liuting International Airport at 4.46 pm and landed at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 7.21 pm, the Global Times reported.

During the flight, passengers on-board could access internet services at speeds higher than 100 megabytes at a height over 10,000 meters.

A live broadcast was also held during the flight, marking the first live in-flight broadcast in China’s civil aviation history, the report said.

The satellite system is based on XstreamSAT, which was built using China’s first and only high throughput satellite (HTS) in Ka band frequency, Zhongxing 16, it said.

Aircraft internet is traditionally powered by Ku band satellites, which mean much slower connection speeds.

Industry analysts said an ecosystem could be developed based on high-speed in-flight internet, and could include e-commerce, new retail and entertainment services. That could help reshape China’s civil aviation industry in the post-virus period, the report said.

The HTS resources are provided by the China Satellite Communication Co.

In addition to the aviation sector, the firm is also able to provide satellite-based internet services in other areas such as energy, navigation and emergency response, it said.