The dream of high-speed global broadband access at 40,000 feet moved a giant step closer to reality in March with the first successful test of Honeywell satellite communications hardware using the new Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) Aviation network. The test proved that the network can be used to send and receive large data files and stream video – all at the same time – marking the beginning of a new age of connectivity for airline and business aviation passengers.
“The test was an important milestone for the Inmarsat-Honeywell partnership and for the connected aircraft concept as a whole,” said Mark Plecity, Inmarsat Director of Aviation Services.
“Honeywell’s equipment and the GX Aviation Ka-band network worked flawlessly, proving that we have the capabilities and know-how to give passengers what they really want – a top quality in-flight broadband service that’s as fast and reliable as the service they get at their home or office.”
Testing was conducted using a Honeywell JetWave MCS 8200 terminal and antenna installed at the company’s Tewkesbury facility in the U.K. The demonstration was specifically designed to test the network’s capabilities by simultaneously sending and receiving large data and streaming video files. Both the hardware and network performed better than expected, passing the test with flying colors.
“Tewkesbury isn’t the optimum location because it’s in the Northern Hemisphere near the edge of our current satellite coverage [provided by the I-5 F1 satellite],” Plecity noted. “In addition, aeronautical satcom terminals are designed to work best at altitudes over 10,000 feet. So the fact that the hardware and the network performed so well is a strong indicator that we’re on the right path.”
The success of the March test clears the way for flight trials, which are scheduled to begin in May. Another important Q2 milestone is the scheduled launch of the third Inmarsat GX satellite, which will complete the global network. The GX Aviation network is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015.
Honeywell and Inmarsat are partnering to deliver global high speed in-flight connectivity to passengers by enabling them to use the Inmarsat Ka-band satellite constellation, Global Xpress. The new Ka-band communications satellite constellation will boost bandwidth four-fold compared to the Ku-band system that has been used for more than decade.