Business aviation operators’ dream of the fully connected aircraft moved a step closer to reality in August with the successful launch of the third and final Global Xpress (GX) satellite by Honeywell’s partner Inmarsat.
“This is a major achievement for Inmarsat and an important milestone for our partnership,” said Jack Jacobs, Vice President and General Manager for the Safety and Connectivity Enterprise. “The I5-F3 satellite will complete the GX satellite constellation, which will ultimately provide aircraft passengers, aircrews and operators with the high-speed Internet connectivity they crave, anywhere in the world.”
The satellite was launched by a Russian Proton-M rocket from a base in Kazakhstan and placed in geosynchronous orbit. Additional maneuvering will take the satellite to its permanent position over the Pacific Ocean, were it will cover the gap left by the two existing satellites.
Together, the three satellites will provide seamless global coverage for the GX Aviation network. The first satellite, which covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was launched in 2014 and is already operational. The satellite covering the Americas was launched earlier this year and is expected to begin operating in September. The third satellite will become operational by the end of 2015.
The launch comes less than three months after an important test of the Honeywell satellite communications hardware that will enable use of the GX network. In June, Honeywell and Inmarsat conducted the first successful flight tests of the company’s JetWave SATCOM equipment, including a specially designed antenna for business aircraft. In a real-world setting, the flight tests validated the network’s ability to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity over land and water using Honeywell’s SATCOM equipment.
Honeywell has developed Ka-band satellite communications hardware including terminals, modems and antennas for business aviation, air transport and defense applications. Use of the Ka-band by the GX Aviation network will boost bandwidth four-fold compared to the Ku-band system that has been used for more than decade.
The Ka-band network will have the capacity to meet current and anticipated demands and – for the first time – will provide truly seamless, secure and global coverage, even on overseas flights. Just as importantly, the Ka-band’s high-speed data pipe will drive down the cost of high-speed connectivity and make it cheaper than ever to move all kinds of data on and off the aircraft.