Avianca technicians install the GX Aviation antenna at their aircraft maintenance and repair facility in Rionegro, Colombia. Photo: Avianca.
Avianca’s engineering department is evaluating the use of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation broadband connectivity to enable predictive maintenance operations, a growing trend among airlines fueled by the expanding availability of speedier satellite and air-to-ground networks.
The Colombian carrier is the first Latin American operator to equip its fleet with connectivity enabled by GX Aviation, Inmarsat’s global Ka-band satellite network. Right now, Avianca is undergoing a two-month trial period where the use of GX is provided free of charge to passengers on two of its in-service Airbus A320s.
Both A320s were modified at Avianca’s maintenance and repair facility hangar inside Jose Maria Cordoba International Airport. The two aircraft were modified with new Honeywell satellite communications terminals and Inmarsat’s ARINC 791 fuselage-mounted antenna, Adolfo Carvajal Gomez, director of engineering at Avianca, told Avionics International.
An Avianca A320 being upgraded with GX Aviation. Photo: Avianca.
Modifications also included installation of three wireless access points across the cabins and separate panels allowing Avianca crew members to interact with the new broadband system’s functionalities separate from passengers.
“As part of our digitalization strategy, Avianca is evaluating and testing the different applications enabled by the GX Aviation connectivity that can enhance our flight and maintenance operations," Gomez said. "These may include meteorology and flight planning applications for our pilots, as well as predictive applications for our maintenance processes."
Avianca is the latest of several carriers in the Latin American region that are equipping with connectivity specifically to increase their pilots situational awareness and maintenance technicians access to critical data.
Viva Air, also based in Colombia, recently started flying new A320s equipped with Teledyne’s new integrated aircraft communications addressing and reporting system data link terrestrial cellular service.
GOL Linhas Aereas is in its first year as the Latin American launch customer for Gogo’s aircraft data service. The Brazilian carrier has installed Gogo’s 2Ku antennas, wireless quick access recorder (QAR) and automated turbulence reporting technology on 91 of its 119 in-service Boeing 737s. They’re in the process of enabling the use of the wireless QAR, automated turbulence and data service through re-wiring and software updates being added to the 737s.
Gomez said Avianca will gradually start introducing GX Aviation across its remaining fleet of A320s, as well as A330s and Boeing 787s starting in February.