In-flight Wi-Fi Inspires Happy Dance

August 30, 2016 | Author: Greg Francois

Imagine in-flight Wi-Fi so good it had one of our passengers dancing in the aisles at 35,000 feet. The passenger was streaming a wedding video when he decided to join in the festivities, singing and dancing along with a treasured home-country folksong.

His reaction was the most memorable, but not the only piece of very positive feedback we received during a recent worldwide series of system integration flights on Honeywell’s unique Boeing 757 flying testbed.

We were testing GX Aviation, the next generation aircraft connectivity solution from Honeywell and Inmarsat, and we decided to ask some of our customers to fly along with us for a first-hand look at the system that’s poised to redefine the Wi-Fi experience for operators and passengers alike. They jumped at the chance because they had heard so much about GX Aviation and were eager to see how it worked, up close and personal.

We flew to more than 10 locations in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. We logged more than 120 flight hours and 45,000 miles – which is almost equivalent to flying twice around the globe. And we made a lot of very positive impressions with the people who will be instrumental in bringing this exciting technology to passengers everywhere.

I’ve done a lot of demo flights in my years on the Honeywell sales team. But this is by far my longest trip and the one in which I received the most positive feedback from our customers and guests. There were lots of smiling faces as our guests used their own devices to connect to the internet, send and receive email, use social media, FaceTime with friends and family, view streaming video and connect with their offices.

The bonus was that the whole flight crew and myself were able to stay connected to in-flight Wi-Fi throughout the 6 weeks we were on the road. This meant that despite being out of the office for an extended period of time, we were able to make the best use of our time on long haul flights – catching up with work and staying in touch with our family and friends.

Almost without exception users commented on the speed and consistency of the system. Many said the service was better than they expected and significantly better than the in-flight connectivity services available commercially today. Many also noted that the connection on the aircraft was as good as the ones they experienced in their homes or offices. One person even said that the GX Aviation experience was superior to what he was used to on the ground!

Of course that was music to our ears, since Honeywell and Inmarsat have been working together for more than four years to bring Honeywell’s JetWave satellite communications hardware and the Inmarsat satellite network together to create a superior connectivity experience for anyone who flies.

Our primary goal for this series of flights was to integrate the onboard hardware and satellite network under real-world operating conditions. So along with our airline and operator guests, we flew with several Honeywell and Inmarsat engineers who were there to put the system through its paces. Since we flew in all regions of the world, we were able to connect with all three Inmarsat GX Aviation satellites and complete seamless hand-offs between the satellites.

The flights were successful on several levels. First, we were able to obtain valuable data that will help us continuously improve our capabilities as we move even closer to entry into commercial service later this year. Second, we were able to show our customers the full potential of the GX Aviation solution to provide fast, reliable connectivity anywhere on the planet. And, finally, we were able to make onboard passengers smile and, in one case, dance for joy with our technology.

Greg Francois

Greg Francois

Greg is an avionics Sr. Sales Manager in the Airlines team at Honeywell. He has worked in the avionics industry for more than 30 years on a variety of commercial air transport avionics, including hardware/software design and product marketing/management. A Seattle, WA native, he has been in Phoenix with Honeywell for the past 8 years (with more than 30 years altogether with Honeywell Aerospace).

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  • Michael Small

    Of course it is fast, since there were not 150 people of the test flight and only 1 airplane under the GX network