Air Canada to Equip A321XLR Fleet with Intelsat Connectivity

By Staff Writer | June 24, 2022
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Air Canada is equipping a fleet of A321XLR aircraft—a computer generated image of which is pictured here—with Intelsat 2ku connectivity. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

Air Canada will be equipping a fleet of Airbus A321XLR aircraft ordered by the airline in March, with Intelsat’s line-fit 2Ku satellite connectivity technology.

According to a June 15 announcement of the Air Canada order, Intelsat’s “next-generation modem” will be installed on the new A321XLR fleet that Air Canada signed an agreement for in March. The March order included the purchase of 26 aircraft, including 20 additional A321XLRs to be acquired through lessors.

All 15 of the in-service A321ceos operated by Air Canada will also be retrofitted with the 2K satellite connectivity technology. Those retrofit installations are scheduled to begin in early 2023, according to Intelsat.

“Millions of Intelsat inflight internet sessions have been delivered to Air Canada’s passengers throughout our nine-plus year relationship,” Senior Vice President of Products, Marketing and E-Commerce at Air Canada, Mark Nasr, said, commenting on the new Intelsat agreement.

The Intelsat agreement comes amid a period of ongoing recovery of passenger demand for Air Canada. Michael Rousseau, the airline’s president and CEO, released a statement on Thursday regarding their current operational status following a meeting with Canada’s Federal Transport Minister.

Air Canada is currently operating approximately 80 percent of the passenger-carrying flights it was managing in June 2019, and recently completed the final cabin-loaded cargo-only flight using its fleet of temporarily converted passenger aircraft—a May 14 Airbus A330-300 flight from Toronto to Bogota, Colombia.

Intelsat’s new ESA (3-D printed model, pictured above) interoperates with Intelsat’s established geostationary satellites (GEO), as well as Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites from other providers.

Intelsat announced the Air Canada A321XLR fleet decision last week, a day after unveiling a new electronically steered antenna (ESA). It leverages a solid state design and “mature” ESA technology from Ball Aerospace, while leveraging design and integration partner, Stellar Blu Solutions, according to a June 14 announcement.

Commenting on the Air Canada A321XLR selection, Dave Bijur, SVP of Commercial for Intelsat Commercial Aviation, said their “continuous launch of satellites over the next several years, starting with Intelsat 40e in early 2023, positions us well in the future to deliver unmatched reliability, redundancy and speed to passengers.”

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