SpaceX Signs First Aircraft Operator for Starlink Satcom

 - April 22, 2022, 10:41 AM
JSX's Embraer ERJs will be the first airborne application of SpaceX's Starlink satcom. (Photo: JSX)

JSX has selected SpaceX’s Starlink satellite communications system to provide Wi-Fi services to customers flying on its fleet of Embraer ERJ twinjets modified to carry up to 30 passengers. The company expects its first Starlink-equipped jet to fly later this year and will offer Wi-Fi for free to onboard customers.

The scheduled charter operator plans to install Starlink equipment in 100 of its jets and it will work with SpaceX to certify, test, and install the systems.

In August, SpaceX Services filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission seeking “a blanket license for the operation of high-performance earth stations in motion that will communicate with the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system.” The frequencies used by low-earth-orbit Starlink satellites are in the Ku-band (12 to 14 GHz).

Reports indicate that SpaceX has tested Starlink satcom on aircraft, including a demo for the U.S. Air Force and on SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s Gulfstream G650. SpaceX has not responded to repeated inquiries by AIN, and no details are available about the type of antenna Starlink will require for aircraft applications, the airborne equipment that needs to be installed and how much it weighs, the cost for aviation users, or which company is responsible for engineering the ERJ-135/145 supplemental type certificate and who will own that STC. JSX also would not provide AIN with additional details.