The standard turnaround time for installing a Wi-Fi system on a commercial aircraft is generally reckoned at four to five days, and revenue lost during this TAT is a significant deterrent to installing or upgrading inflight Wi-Fi. Launch Technical Workforce Solutions, which assigns special teams to projects like this, has cut that standard TAT in half, remarkable progress for any tech team, airline, shop or contracted.
Moreover, this was no air-to-ground installation with a small antenna under the fuselage. These were installations of Gogo’s new 2Ku satellite-based Wi-Fi done on Airbus A319s, 320s, and 321s and Boeing 737-800s and 900s and 757s. The work was done at Delta Air Lines’ Minneapolis and Atlanta facilities.
Roy Carwile, president of Launch Teams, attributes the speed to a complete team of structure, interior, avionics and quality control technicians working in unison. That enables Launch to do the job fast, economically and with no quality escapes. “The team is well versed in both satellite-based, and air-to-ground Wi-Fi systems within the industry,” Carwile notes.
Onsite Launch leadership maintains professionalism and handles interaction with customers to ensure high performance. Then Launch has a special method to identify possible sticking points and eliminate them.
Launch begins by inventorying every Wi-Fi installation to the nut-and-bolt level, ensuring it has needed parts before starting. It then rings out existing wiring, sending a signal to make sure it comes out the other end, to ensure all pre-existing terminations are correct.
Launch builds the main aircraft Wi-Fi harness on a template, which allows complex terminations to be performed and verified prior to installation. And the team pre-drills and builds up structural components ahead of the installation, saving time and improving quality.
Organizationally, Launch assigns specific crews to specific airplanes and tasks to ensure complete accountability. “Launch Team understands how the system functions and what effects will be seen if the system is not working correctly,” Carwile notes. “This allows us to troubleshoot irregularities quickly and correct any discrepancies.” The result is an, “an industry-first 48-hour install, which will now become the standard on Wi-Fi installations.” Plenty of airline CFOs would be very happy if 48 hours does indeed become standard.