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1st passenger jet to offer high-speed internet makes maiden flight

By Zhao Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-07 21:19

China's first passenger jetliner offering high-speed internet service on board, a Qingdao Airlines' aircraft, is put into commercial operation, on July 7, 2020. [Photo/Official website of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)]

China's first passenger jetliner that offers high-speed internet service on board was put into commercial operation on Tuesday, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned space conglomerate.

The aircraft is a modified Airbus A320 and is used by Qingdao Airlines' QW9771 flight from Qingdao in East China's Shandong province to Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan province.

Connected to the space giant's communications satellite ChinaSat 16, also known as Shijian 13, the jetliner conducted its first high-speed-internet flight on Tuesday afternoon, transporting government officials, contractors and representatives from enterprises involved in the program on a three-hour trip to Chengdu, the company said in a statement.

Passengers on the flight were given access to internet service at a speed of about 100 megabytes per second, several times faster than other internet-available flights in China and as speedy as fixed-line service.

They were allowed to use their own mobile phones to connect with the internet. Some were invited to take part in the first onboard live streaming in China, the statement noted.

According to a statement published by Qingdao Airlines, modifications on the aircraft began in November and the first test flight was made in January. The plane's certifications and tests were conducted from December to June, it said.

The first communications satellite in China using Ka-band broadband technology, ChinaSat 16 was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology based on its DFH-3B communications satellite platform. It is orbiting the Earth nearly 40,000 kilometers above the ground, since it was lifted atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province in April 2017.

The spacecraft had been called by space authorities the country's most advanced communications satellite before the Shijian 20, which was launched into space in December.

Weighing 4.6 metric tons, the satellite is expected to operate in a geostationary orbit for 15 years. It features a Ka-band broadband communications system capable of transmitting 20 gigabytes of data per second, exceeding the total capacity of all the country's previous communications satellites.

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