Icelandair Ready to Activate Viasat In-flight Connectivity on 737 MAX-9s

EASA issued a supplemental type certificate last month allowing Icelandair to activate Viasat in-flight internet on its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX-9s, following the rollout of the service on their 737 MAX-8s in March. (Viasat)

Icelandair is ready to start rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity (IFC) service across its fleet of 737 MAX-9 aircraft, following a supplemental type certificate (STC) issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the aircraft type last month.

According to a July 19 blog post from Viasat, their satellite antennas, modems, wireless access points and other IFC enabling hardware and software were installed on Icelandair’s 737 MAX-9 aircraft earlier this year, however it was deactivated pending an STC from EASA. The same IFC service launched on the airline’s 737 MAX-8 aircraft in March 2021.

“Over Europe, this network includes the KA-SAT satellite and could include others like Avanti’s Hylas constellation in the future. When traveling over the US, Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft will connect with several other Viasat satellites, including ViaSat-2,” Icelandair said in a July 19 blog post on their website.

Viasat’s access to the Hylas constellation referenced by Icelandair is the result of a partnership announced June 3 with U.K.-based satellite operator Avanti Communications. The new agreement is designed to augment Viasat’s KA-SAT satellite coverage and capacity and will initially be leveraged to serve new mobility customers in the region. Viasat plans to leverage Avanti’s HYLAS 4 and HYLAS 2 satellites beginning in October 2021.

Icelandair became the first airline to start offering Viasat IFC on flights over the Atlantic Ocean from a 2017 agreement reached between the two companies. By activating the satellite system on the 737 MAX-9, the airline now features connectivity across every aircraft model within its fleet.

The Boeing 757s and 767s operated by Icelandair feature IFC from Global Eagle Entertainment, resulting from a 2016 investment by the airline. Passengers are charged €6 for Wi-Fi access on Icelandair’s European routes, and €12 for flights to North American destinations.

EASA’s approval of Viasat IFC on Icelandair’s 737 MAX-9 aircraft comes following the launch of the same service launching on KLM’s 737-800 aircraft in April.

Icelandair expects all Viasat-enabled aircraft to be installed by April 2022.

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox