SpaceX has secured another airline customer for its Starlink internet service.
Hawaiian Airlines will use Starlink to provide Wi-Fi on its trans-Pacific flights, the company announced on Monday (April 25).
"We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait," Peter Ingram, the airline's president and CEO, said in a statement (opens in new tab). "Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality."
The value of the deal was not disclosed in the press release. This is the second major Starlink inflight Wi-Fi announcement in recent days; charter airline company JSX said last week it would offer the service on its Embraer ERJ aircraft, which is generally used by well-heeled business customers.
We're proud to be the 1st major U.S. airline to select @SpaceX’s Starlink, which will provide the best internet connectivity in the air — free for our guests. Stay connected from the comfort of your seat. This is the future of flying.✨ https://t.co/ZBTwso36Kq.#Starlink #SpaceX pic.twitter.com/qxV2tRd4diApril 25, 2022
Hawaiian is the first major airline to sign up with Starlink, although it's not the only one eying the service for customers. Delta Airlines told the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) recently that it has conducted "exploratory tests" of Starlink's internet technology for its business customers.
Back in 2021, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said SpaceX was working on making Starlink service available on various aircraft, although it appears the vehicles on his list at the time were not the ones first certified for use with his company's service.
"Schedule driver there is regulatory approval," Musk tweeted (opens in new tab) on June 25, alluding to the Federal Aviation Administration that oversees the airline industry. "Has to be certified for each aircraft type. Focusing on 737 & A320, as those serve most number of people, with development testing on Gulfstream."
Starlink is a good choice for rural or remote customers (presumably including airline clients) who are looking for better internet connectivity, SpaceX representatives say.
"Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s, and latency as low as 20ms in most locations," the Starlink home page states (opens in new tab) of its service to ground terminals. The page does not say what those speeds might be at 30,000 feet (9 kilometers) above Earth.
SpaceX regularly sends Starlink satellites to orbit aboard the company's Falcon 9 rockets. SpaceX now has launched more than 2,300 Starlink satellites and may eventually send up about 30,000. The megaconstellation's potential impact on launch services, astronomy and space debris are a cause of concern among scientists and other stakeholders in the community.