AA Upgrades Brand New Planes

New Wi-Fi lifts passenger experience

By Brian Curtis
|  Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011  |  Updated 9:21 PM CDT
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Contrary to what many people may think, new planes don't just roll off the assembly line ready for passengers.

Brian Curtis, NBCDFW.com

Contrary to what many people may think, new planes don't just roll off the assembly line ready for passengers.

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American Airlines' brand-new 737 aircraft fly from the factory in Seattle to DFW Airport, where mechanics promptly begin taking them apart in a special hangar.

All the emergency equipment including life vests and seatbelts are also checked, according to Ed Barnhart of American Airlines.

Mechanics also install signage and coffee makers. But that's only the beginning of a process, which in the end will give customers a state-of-the-art voyage.

The biggest task is installing the plane's Wi-Fi system. 

"We've got antennas in the cargo hold. One in the forward, one in the aft and then one on the top," said American's Will Rivera. The airline is spending millions on in-flight wireless technology.

"It's probably one of the biggest things we're introducing to our customers today," said Barnhart. 

The process is painstaking, requiring mechanics to disassemble large parts of the plane's interior. But it is important that they finish the job as quickly as possible. 

"Especially now, during the peak season of the summer flying," said Barnhart. Right now it can take several days to complete the process, but American hopes it will soon be able to complete the work in as little as 24 hours.

American will take delivery of 54 new Boeing 737s over the next two and half years.

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