How the Internet became airborne
Almost 10 years of experience and perfecting, more than 91% of the intercontinental fleet already equipped, 10,000 satisfied customers: Lufthansa FlyNet® not only represents a milestone in service by Lufthansa, it is also an impressive example of a technical pioneering spirit.
A wonder of technology
Geostationary satellites circle approximately 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above the earth and it is these that FlyNet® accesses. Strung together like a pearl necklace, the satellites are located directly above the Equator — and therefore spread around the world. Once the aircraft is on its flight route, it sends the signals to the nearest satellite. From there these are redirected to the ground and received again. The important thing here is that a line of sight exists from the aircraft to the satellite. Once an aircraft leaves a satellite’s output range, the connection is transferred to the neighbouring satellite. And it is precisely this ‘transfer’ that is the technical tour de force.
“More than 91% of Lufthansa intercontinental aircraft have FlyNet® on board”
The WLAN technology employed has been certified by the aviation authorities and ensures that neither the on-board electronics nor the aircraft frequencies can be affected.
FlyNet® as it developed
Likewise the system is not equipped for extreme weather conditions — in the event of thunderstorms or thick fog in the vicinity of the ground stations connection outages between the satellite and the ground station may occur. So far, only over Chinese airspace have airlines been forbidden by the relevant Chinese authorities from offering an Internet connection on board. The service is therefore available on flights to Asia until Chinese airspace is reached; the system switches on again when the aircraft leaves Chinese airspace.