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JetBlue inks Airbus WiFi pact with Aviation Technical Services

New York-based low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) said has signed a contract with Washington state-based Aviation Technical Services for the installation of fast next-generation Ka-band satellite Wi-Fi technology on JetBlue´s fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

According to JetBlue, the agreement covers up to 130 A320 aircraft at ATS´s maintenance facility in Everett, Wash. Additional Ka-band installations will be accomplished at JetBlue´s LiveTV subsidiary in Orlando.

The technology was designed by LiveTV, which will be conducting training and technical support to ATS to ensure a quality installation. All Airbus A320 installations are expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Fly-Fi, JetBlue´s brand for wireless inflight internet, will use satellite-based connectivity, while most other carriers use ground-based systems, known as Ku-band. Subsequently, JetBlue´s Fly-Fi system is expected to be significantly faster than others.

Ka-band is the next generation of high-bandwidth satellite technology, with eight times more bandwidth than Ku-band. Ka-band satellites are better suited to support high-throughput capacity that cannot be met by more congested Ku-band frequencies. Ka-band also allows smaller end-user antennas.

Since opening in 1970, ATS has been providing maintenance, repair and overhaul services for commercial and military transport jet aircraft. From a base of operations in Washington State (Everett and Moses Lake), FAA Class IV Airframe and Class 1, 2 and 3 accessory ratings enable ATS to perform MRO services for virtually any transport aircraft in the world.

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