A look inside the Chicago Gogo 2Ku Assembly and Shipping Facility – the Tech Behind Delta FAST Wifi speed!

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This weekend I and some 400 travel enthusiasts have been sharing tips on how to earn and burn points in ways never imagined. Since the travel space is always changing we must as well. But another thing that is changing in a really great way is on-board wifi speed from Gogo. We Delta flyers who have tested their new 2Ku broadband speed know how great this upgrade in technology is.

On Thursday before the Chicago Seminars kicked off about 20 RenesPoints.com readers were treated to a unique look behind the scenes of their Chicago assembly and shipping facility.

A shuttle was provided as well as some really fun Gogo SWAG including a 25x use Gogo pass for all in attendance – sweet!

The Gogo facility near ORD airport is much less assuming than the larger corporate building in downtown Chicago that I toured a while back.

Then again, visitors are not often granted access to this location so it was a real treat to check out the nuts and bolts, if you will, where the units depart for airlines around the world.

Scott from Gogo gave us an overview of what we were about to see and shared a ton of Avgeek interesting facts about the facility and the 2Ku units themselves like:

  • Their 1st system launched July 2008 on an AA jet
  • Right now Gogo has 17 install bases around the world
  • They hold 60% of the worldwide airline broadband market
  • Currently have 1800 units to install and are completing ~50 / week
  • Delta TechOps people complete installs of Gogo 2Ku units
  • A 2Ku install takes about 2.5 days to complete
  • Airlines can add 2Ku while keeping ATG (air to ground) for even better performance
  • Delta A350s are “line fit” i.e. factory installed with 2Ku
  • All 2Ku “ship kits” are American made

Now off to the tour and a controlled environment for aviation components.

It is amazing to see the number of parts that go into any single component of an aircraft and Gogo wifi is no exception. They shared the new kits for the Delta CS100 jets weighs 1400 lbs

Above you see the mounting plate that attaches to the aircraft to hold the 2Ku antennas (there are two of them).

The composite dome that “hides” the technology while simple in appearance must be prepared to take incredible punishment without failing. They shared how this component has to pass the frozen chicken test (kinda like this one).

Lastly they opened up a box ready to be shipped off and above you see one of the two antennas that go under the dome. The reason for two is it improves the wifi speed and experience since one dish can send data to the jet and the other receive.

Some other fascinating bits shared was that Gogo was the first to have the ability to have antennas that can cross the equator as this can cause a flip in polarity and their units can adjust to this. Also Gogo does not own any of the 20-30 satellites they connect to but have agreements with providers to access the Internet.

What really impressed me was the change in IFE with the CS100 jets. The seat back entertainment will basically be an Android tablet simply connected to the seat back power and then all the video is streamed to the seat saving massive weight over a traditional IFE system. Weight savings on a jet equals less fuel burn and more savings for the airlines. For us it can also mean quicker updates to videos provided. A win-win for both!

The event ended with a shuttle to Lou Malneti’s Pizza in Elk Grove Village close by for a taste of real Chicago deep dish pizza!

Our group had a blast and I can not thank Gogo enough for sponsoring and treating our group to all of the above and a fascinating look behind the scenes of the tech side of what powers the onboard wifi.

Have you had a chance to try the new 2Ku on-board broadband? Were you as impressed as I was with how fast it truly is? – Rene


PS – Don’t forget about the chance to WIN a 25x use Gogo pass HERE!




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