The Embraer ERJ 135 and ERJ 145 aircraft will be the first in the world to offer Wi-Fi service from Starlink, a network of more than 2,000 mini-satellites launched by SpaceX, the company of billionaire Elon Musk.
Last week, airline JSX, which operates charter flights, signed the first contract for Wi-Fi service with Starlink, according to the company’s CEO, Alex Wilcox. JSX ERJs have a two-seat-per-row configuration and are used on point-to-point routes within the United States.
The company intends to start the service by the end of this year for free. The internet “will be like home, only faster,” Wilcox told CNBC.
SpaceX’s in-flight Wi-Fi service has not yet been authorized by US authorities, but approval is expected to take place in the coming months. To test the equipment, JSX installed an antenna on one of its Embraer planes.
The Starlink satellite network has been deployed using SpaceX rockets that launch small objects weighing between 227 and 295 kg into low Earth orbit.
The technology allows high-speed internet access in any region of the planet. It is precisely this differential that makes the Starlink service more attractive in flights, since its competitors, such as Viasat and Intelsat (which took over Gogo), use satellites in higher orbits, with lower speed available.
“Our approach to connectivity in the sky is much like it is at home: You walk into your house and the internet just works. It’s simple. It’s high speed,” said Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink, at a US conference.