Gogo 5G software testing with virtual flight simulator

gogo 5g testing

In February, Gogo’s radio frequency (RF) team started conducting virtual flight simulation testing of its 5G software. Using an advanced virtual flight simulator, Gogo is emulating the radio channel in the airborne environment to verify the 5G air-to-ground wireless channel and AVANCE software capabilities. 

From the virtual flight test lab, our team will make 5G calls and transfer data, checking performance to optimize the 5G service and onboard connectivity performance. Over the next several weeks, the team will simulate hundreds of 5G flights with different geographical positions and altitudes, angles of arrival, beamforming, doppler, speeds, and distances to Gogo’s ground-based 5G towers.

Next level innovation – 5G virtual flight simulator 

The RF team at Gogo is responsible for use-case testing for a handful of hardware and software products. With the 5G chip still in production, the RF team viewed a virtual flight simulator as a viable way to accomplish testing and fine-tuning of the software without the actual chip.  As a result, the team designed and built this state-of-the-art virtual flight simulator – a significant technological achievement.


At Gogo, innovation is in our DNA. What our RF team did was create technology to solve a problem and then take testing to the next level. Now, we can validate and mature our 5G software to a critical degree before the 5G chip is in our hands. The 5G virtual flight simulator is phenomenal.

Sergio Aguirre

president and COO of Gogo

Behind the scenes with engineer Heinz Miranda

heinz miranda gogo rf engineer

Heinz Miranda a Gogo RF Engineer in the virtual flight test lab

Q: Why use a virtual flight simulator for testing?  

A: It is a customizable way of testing that allows us to continue the development and integration of all the parts of the 5G system using the very same algorithms as the 5G chip. Specifically, it allows our development partners to complete the implementation of the 3GPP 5G protocol stack and allows us to integrate and verify it as an end-to-end system. 

Q: What are you verifying?  

A: Although we are verifying all parts of the system, we are focusing on three major areas of the 5G system: ground-base stations, algorithm customizations for our wireless environment, and the modem on the plane. Our proprietary virtual flight-testing environment can simulate variations in geographical position and altitude, and many other changing factors of an aircraft enroute like beamforming, angle of arrival, and doppler. With this lab, we will complete the integration and development by testing end-to-end. 

What are the next steps to Gogo 5G?  

Testing using the virtual flight simulator allows the Gogo team to mature the software at a faster pace before flight testing begins. We can accomplish all of these tests (lab testing and flight testing) now, adjust any interfaces that have bugs, and validate firmware to a more than 90% confidence level. This greatly speeds up time to market. After successful testing in Chicago, the next step is flight tests using Gogo’s Challenger 300 testbed and the already-deployed Gogo 5G network. We anticipate those to happen in April, with further testing will be done this summer and fall. Gogo 5G remains on track for an expected commercial launch later this year.

Take a deep dive into Gogo 5G and Gogo AVANCE with these resources.