Last Update: at 21:22

No internet on board

Satellite antenna too heavy for Lufthansa Airbus A320 Neo

The airline is not only blocking seats to ensure that the Airbus A320 Neo does not become too heavy in the aft section. Now, Lufthansa also has to do without the satellite antenna due to the center of gravity.

«As a pioneer in the area of in-flight connectivity, Lufthansa now also offers Internet access on selected A320-family aircraft.» it can be read on the airline’s website. But no less than 20 of the most modern aircraft do not number among these «selected aircraft». The Airbus A320 Neo does not offer passengers Internet access on board.

The reason: The satellite antenna, which can be easily seen from the outside as a large white bubble and is essential to the Internet connection, is mounted on top of the aft section of the fuselage. It weighs around 200 kilograms which would worsen an already existing problem with Lufthansa’s A320 Neo: The planes have difficulties with their weight balance. At aeroTELEGRAPH’s request, a Lufthansa spokeswoman confirmed: «The reason why we haven’t equipped the A320 Neo with satellite antennas so far is because of the aircraft’s center of gravity».

Last row of seats blocked

Lufthansa’s A320 Neo aircraft have a problem with their center of gravity. And that creates additional efforts. On the ground, for example, the airline has to make sure that the baggage in the forward hold is not unloaded until all passengers have left the aircraft. Otherwise, it risks tilting backward. But problems could also arise in flight.

In the meantime, Lufthansa has also blocked the last row of seats in the A320 Neo in reaction to an Easa airworthiness directive. The European aviation authority warns: «If certain configurations of the jet and special flight maneuvers come together, the angle of attack could theoretically rise so quickly that the jet’s protective mechanisms do not take effect in time». Airbus has therefore notified A320 Neo operators of the revised center of gravity limits.

Satellite technology from mid-2020?

The decisive factor in determining which A320 Neo aircraft are affected by this problem is the cabin layout – i.e. the arrangement of seats, galley, and toilets. It is up to the airlines themselves as to which interior is to be installed. Lufthansa’s choice obviously is not optimal in this context.

The theoretical risk in the air is to be eliminated with an Airbus software update, which is expected by mid-2020. Internet access might also change by then. «We are checking whether we can then equip the A320 Neo with satellite technology,» adds the Lufthansa spokeswoman.

In the picture gallery above you can see the difference between the A320 with Internet connectivity and the A320 without – and learn more about the Internet technology on board.

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