Accessing the internet while on an airplane has always been a subpar experience at best. Starlink, with the introduction of its Aviation plan, hopes to get rid of this once and for all.
In this article, I’ll explain what Starlink Aviation is, what equipment it comes with, how much it costs (also in comparison to other plans), and who has signed up for the service thus far.
What Is Starlink Aviation?
Starlink Aviation is a service that provides internet connectivity on airplanes. It is aimed at business customers, namely commercial airlines and private jet operators.
Much like its other plans, Starlink promises high-speed and low-latency internet to aircraft passengers. Users can expect download speeds of up to 220 Mbps with latency less than 99 ms.
As such, passengers can not only download and watch content but also hop on a video call while up in the air.
Starlink Aviation promises global coverage thanks to the thousands of satellites roaming earth’s low orbit.
Therefore, internet connectivity is enabled in-flight over land and water as well as during takeoff and landing (so long there’s an unobstructed view of the sky).
Additionally, Starlink Aviation offers unlimited data while the contract itself can be terminated at any given time.
With that being said, Starlink sells two distinct tiers called ‘Business Jet’ and ‘Airliner’ aimed, as the name suggests, private jets and commercial aircrafts.
Starlink Aviation is rolling out throughout 2023. Interested customers can order it here.
Starlink Aviation Hardware
Starlink Aviation comes with a specialized hardware kit that is custom-made for aircrafts. It includes a so-called Aero Terminal (i.e., the dishy), a power supply, 2 wireless access points, and harnesses.
The Aero Terminal is an electronically steered phased array antenna, which is placed on either the front or end of the aircraft.
The hardware itself remains under warranty for as long as the customer stays subscribed to the Aviation plan.
Unfortunately, customers have to arrange installation by themselves and thus hire a specialized provider.
The following aircrafts are currently supported:
- 72-500, 72-600
- Super King Air 200/300
- Challenger 300/350
- Challenger 600, 601, 604, 605, 650
- Global 5000
- Global 5500
- Global 6000
- Global 6500
- Global 7500
- Global Express
- Global Express XRS
- Falcon 2000
- De Havilland Canada
- Dash Q400 (8-400), Q300 (8-300)
- Phenom 300
However, Starlink can recommend various experienced and qualified installers, if needed. Starlink is selling either one Aero Terminal for jets or between one to two for commercial airlines.
How Much Does Starlink Aviation Cost?
The ability to connect to the internet while in the air certainly doesn’t come cheap.
Starlink charges private jet operators between $12,500 to $25,000 per month for the ability to connect to the internet while on a flight.
Meanwhile, commercial airline customers pay $100 to $150 per seat per month for their setup.
SpaceX said that the price that Aviation customers end up paying is dependent on “their needs” without specifying what that exactly means.
Given the complexities involved, ranging from design work for mounting, analysis, and possibly some testing, pricing is likely dependent on the type of aircraft and how easy or tough it is to install the hardware.
Additionally, each installation has to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which itself can cost extensive amounts of money.
A one-time hardware fee of $150,000 has to be paid as well. Lastly, customers pay a reservation fee of $5,000, which is subtracted from the hardware cost.
Interestingly, unlike its Maritime plan, Starlink isn’t undercutting competitors on pricing with Aviation.
Gogo, its biggest rival in the space with a market share of roughly 80 percent, offers both cheaper equipment and monthly plans.
However, Gogo is not able to offer the same download speeds and latency since it relies on only a few geostationary satellites versus the thousands of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites Starlink runs on.
Starlink Aviation vs. Business vs. Maritime
Starlink offers a total of seven internet plans of which three are aimed at B2B customers.
Here’s a tabular overview of how these services differ from each other:
|Customer||Airlines & private jet operators||Stationary businesses & enterprises||Cruise lines, oil rigs, vessels|
|Monthly Fee||Small/Medium Jets: $12,500|
Large Jets: $25,000
Airlines: $100 – $150 per seat
|$250 (1 TB) |
$500 (2 TB)
$1,500 (6 TB)
|$250 (50 GB)|
$1,000 (1 TB)
$5,000 (5 TB)
|Download Speed||Up to 100 Mbps||Up to 220 Mbps||Up to 220 Mbps|
|Latency||15 ms – 50 ms||15 ms – 50 ms||15 ms – 50 ms|
|Cancellation Policy||Any time||Any time||Any time|
Fast speed and reliability are of the essence given the contract sizes Starlink deals with.
Plus, offering Starlink to your customers may become a real differentiator in the future.
For example, its private jet partners often charter CEOs and other important business people who can continue working throughout their flights.
The low latency in particular will make the video calling experience substantially more pleasant, thus allowing execs to work throughout their flights.
Starlink Aviation Customers
Starlink has already been able to sign up a few heavy hitters to its Aviation plan. But let’s first take a look at how we got here.
Back in June 2021, SpaceX vice president Jonathan Hofeller claimed that the firm was “in talks with several” airlines. However, it took almost another year until those claims came to fruition.
In April 2022, SpaceX managed to sign on its first two customers, namely semi-private charter company JSX and Hawaiian Airlines.
With that said, customer approval did not equate to regulatory approval. That occurred three months after when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Starlink for moving vehicles, including airplanes, vessels, cruises, trucks, and so forth.
I assume that a lot of other airlines are still tied up in their existing contracts. Competitor Gogo, for example, has signed up over a dozen such as Air France, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, and many more.
Meanwhile, the smaller airlines may receive a discounted price due to being early adopters, which may make it easier for Starlink to sell into even larger enterprises.
Starlink Aviation is expected to fully roll out by the end of 2023. So, many potential customers are likely to be signed up in 2024 and beyond.
In recent times, Starlink’s Twitter account disclosed that the Aviation kit is now installed on 70 airplanes – with 400 more on contract and due for installation.
Since most of those kits are installed on smaller airplanes, it can be assumed that the average Aviation customer currently pays around $15,000 or so per month.
At 70 installed kits, this would peg Starlink’s revenue for the Aviation plan at around $1.05 million, give or take.
With close to six times as many customers due to be onboarded, Aviation could certainly become a very lucrative staple in Starlink’s revenue mix.