Business & GA, Connectivity

SpaceX Signs JSX as First Air Carrier for Starlink In-flight Connectivity Service

JSX is adding SpaceX's Starlink in-flight internet service to its Embraer jets starting later this year. (Photo, courtesy of JSX)

JSX, the California-based Part 135 public charter operator, will become the first air carrier to operate aircraft using SpaceX’s Starlink satellites for in-flight connectivity (IFC) service.

The company posted the announcement to its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts on Thursday, indicating that its first SpaceX-equipped aircraft will start flying with Starlink’s IFC service this year.

“JSX is proud to be the first air carrier to adopt SpaceX Starlink internet inflight, free for every Customer onboard. We’d call it the best Wi-Fi in the sky, but it’s actually the greatest Wi-Fi in the galaxy - coming later this year,” the announcement says.

The charter air carrier has released no details beyond its social media announcements, and several minor statements about how the service will perform on passenger-carrying flights. CNBC reported Thursday that JSX CEO Alex Wilcox confirmed their agreement with SpaceX covers up to 100 aircraft and is currently pending regulatory approval.

"Our Customers have repeatedly asked us when we would offer inflight Wi-Fi, and we’ve said that we’ll do it when we find the best product in the world. Today, I’m proud to say, we’ve found it and the wait for Wi-Fi on JSX is nearly over,” Wilson said in an April 21 press release. “Starlink’s technology will change the way JSX Customers access and enjoy the Internet while inflight and demonstrates another example of how our forward-thinking model of flying delivers the most simple, joyful, and seamless air travel experience available in the skies.” 

The majority of routes operated by JSX are between airports located in California and southwestern destinations, with a fleet of 77 total Embraer 135s and 145s. The JSX brand is a subsidiary of private charter JetSuite, and focuses on providing short haul flights at prices that compete with commercial airline business cabin fares. The company previously had committed to becoming the launch customer for the SmartSky Networks IFC service.

The JSX charter air carrier service route map. (Photo, courtesy of JSX)

SpaceX has been indicating its intention to provide IFC service via its Starlink satellite network since March 2021, when the company made its first Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing asking for a license that would authorize the operation of Starlink terminals for Earth Stations in Motion (ESIMs) on aircraft, ships, and vehicles, according to reporting featured in Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International.

Starlink is a constellation of satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) that provides broadband internet service in a direct-to-consumer model that has been adjusted to serve enterprise and industrial applications. SpaceX has launched 2,335 Starlink satellites to date, following their latest launch on April 21.

Jonathan Hofeller, who serves as vice president of SpaceX, has also discussed the company’s plans for in-flight connectivity services in several public appearances over the last year. As an example, during his participation on panel discussion at the Satellite 2022 conference in March, Hofeller said the Starlink IFC service will be capable of enabling streaming to every passenger on an aircraft.

“We believe in a future where connectivity is abundant, you’re not scrapping for kilobits per second here. It’s so much that people get on the plane and they stream just like they do in their home, so we’re designing a service that every single passenger on that plan can stream simultaneously if need be,” Hofeller said.

During a virtual appearance on a Connected Aviation Intelligence panel discussion about LEO satellite IFC for aviation services, Hofeller said the company has developed its own IFC terminal that leverages its phased array consumer antenna for aviation.

“High-speed, low-latency internet is critical in our modern age, and during air travel is no exception,” Hofeller said in a statement, commenting on the JSX agreement. “With Starlink, we’re able to provide an internet experience similar to or better than what passengers experience at home. We are creating a future that when all customers walk on to the plane, the internet just works – no hassles, no logins. By being the first air carrier to adopt Starlink, JSX is setting this new standard for air travel." 

 

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to JSX as an airline. It has been updated to reflect JSX's status as a Part 135 operator classified as an air carrier, not an airline.

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