Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to fly Turkish Airlines for the first time as I made my way to the Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME) exhibition in Dubai. You might be wondering why I am writing about this now given the event took place at the beginning of February and the answer to that conundrum is that I have simply been ever so ridiculously busy of late. Alas, I have vowed to make blogging a more frequent part of my work week and would therefore like to bring you all up-to-date with a quick summary of the in-flight connectivity on offer on Turkish Airlines.
I must admit, I was particularly looking forward to flying with Turkish after learning it had been named “Best Airline in Europe” for the fourth consecutive year at the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards. This, and the fact that I was sure that the Istanbul to Dubai leg of my journey would be Wi-Fi-enabled after our recently-published Aeronautical Connectivity study revealed that around 30 Turkish Airlines aircraft were equipped with Panasonic’s Global Communications Services (GCS) by the end of the 2014. A cursory glance out of the terminal window before boarding confirmed the existence of a distinctive Ku-band radome atop the fuselage (see blurry photo below) and had me looking forward to getting some work done en route.
Unfortunately, I quickly learnt that there was no Wi-Fi network for me to connect to and naturally assumed that the service had been disabled for one reason or another. In spite of the existence of the aforementioned radome, I began to doubt myself and wondered if Turkish had actually announced a rollout plan for in-flight Wi-Fi on its A330 aircraft after all (as this press release from 2010 shows, they have). Flicking through the IFE section of the in-flight magazine whilst chomping on the delicious and complimentary Turkish delight confections served during boarding, I then came across some interesting information stating the in-flight Wi-Fi would “be activated following completion of final certification processes”. Had Turkish installed in-flight connectivity on its aircraft and not yet activated the service? If so, for how long had these aircraft been flying around with this dead weight? Were my statistics wrong?
Upon reaching land (and connectivity) I did some quick checks and found a review of the Panasonic-provided system from 2012. Clearly then, there are some aircraft with in-flight connectivity installed and activated and some where the service is not yet activated. I got in touch with Turkish Airlines to confirm current equipage numbers, which are as follows:
4 A330s and 20 B777s with GCS (Wi-Fi and TV) installed and activated
17 further A330s with GCS (Wi-Fi and TV) installed but not yet activated
Mobile phone services (from AeroMobile) will be activated soon
As mentioned in my last blog, Turkish Airlines is also trialling a Wireless IFE (W-IFE) solution from its MRO centre, Turkish Technic, and software partner, HAVELSAN. With Astronics Corporation’s EmPower in-seat power supply also present (on my flight at least – see photo below), Turkish is well set to tackle one of the main challenges associated with relying on passenger-owned devices for IFE – poor battery life. Time will tell if the airline also opts to spare passengers from neck ache and offer some form of PED storage. Having somewhere to comfortably place a smartphone or tablet inflight is undoubtedly a growing trend and the big news before this years’ Aircraft Interiors show in Hamburg was Astronics entering into an exclusive distribution partnership with PED table innovator SmartTray.
So there you go, that’s a brief update on what’s happening in the world of W-IFE and IFC at Turkish.