CAAC Validates JetWave Connectivity System for Airbus A320s in China

Honeywell's 757 demonstrator aircraft in 2019 completed ground and flight testing of the JetWave system in China that received STC validation from Chinese civil aviation regulators last week. (Honeywell)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has approved a validation of Honeywell's MCS-8420 JetWave satellite connectivity system for Airbus A320 aircraft.

A320s using the MCS-8420 system in the CAAC-controlled flight information region (FIR) will connect to China's Ka-band satellite network, according to an Aug. 9 press release. The validation was one of the first issued by CAAC on a European European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for commercial aviation connectivity.

Honeywell originally developed the STC with Lufthansa Technik for Airbus A320s flying in Europe, using Inmarsat's Global Xpress Ka-band service – GX Aviation. The total JetWave package includes a Multi-Channel Satellite (MCS) terminal, antenna controller, modem and router hardware, and two different versions of a tail-mounted antenna — the MCS-8000 for the business aviation market and the MCS-8200 for commercial air transport aircraft.

“In today's society, the ability to stay connected during flight is becoming a common expectation. This makes the in-flight Wi-Fi service enabled by Honeywell JetWave Satellite Communication System an important differentiated competitive advantage,” Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace China, said in a statement. "We noticed that digitalization was mentioned many times in China's 14th Five-Year Plan. The exploration of new development opportunities through digital transformation has now become the focus of many airlines. This new VSTC for JetWave will greatly enhance Honeywell’s support for China’s in-flight high-speed satellite communications. This is also another exciting achievement Honeywell has made in digitalization.

CAAC's validation of the STC comes nearly two years after Honeywell's Boeing 757 demonstrator aircraft equipped with the MCS-8420 completed ground and flight tests in China. Honeywell claims a speed of up to 180 Mbps for the system.

Validation was completed as a result of the China-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the European Union. Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) for Airworthiness and Environmental Certification, a specification of the BASA agreement, were employed by CAAC's validation team in the process. TIP allows for "initial and subsequent validations in a defined process, and, therefore, predictable time frame," according to Honeywell.

“This represents a milestone in the cooperation of CAAC and EASA in the field of commercial aviation connectivity, made possible by the China-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). Based on a very light design and more than 300 installations, we can support very fast installations in less than four days and high-maintenance inspection intervals; together offering very low and competitive operational costs to the airlines,” Lukas Bucher, Head of Connectivity Solutions at Lufthansa Technik, said in a statement.

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