Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

The countdown to the launch of the Inmarsat GX5 satellite is well and truly underway.

With a launch window of between 21:08 and 22:43 GMT on 22 November, GX5, built by Thales Alenia Space for Inmarsat, will be launched by Arianespace from its Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

The expected mission time of the Ariane 5 rocket is 34 minutes, 14 seconds, with separation of the 4,007 kg GX5 satellite the final step at approximately 34 minutes, 7 seconds after launch.

Located in a geostationary orbit at 11° East, GX5 will deliver greater capacity than the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4) combined and will support the rapid growth in customer demand for GX services in Europe and the Middle East, particularly for aviation passenger Wi-Fi and commercial maritime services.

Additional capacity will be introduced over the next four years with the launch of a further seven GX payloads.

While Air France has become the latest airline to launch a commercial service of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, following the delivery of its first Airbus A350, ‘Toulouse’, in October, Qatar Airways has threatened to spoil the party by selecting Gogo’s 2Ku in-flight connectivity for its 787-9, 787-8 and A380 aircraft. The service should go live in 2020.

The contract covers 70 aircraft and marks the entry into the Middle East for the Gogo service.

In 2018, the carrier became the first in the region to deploy GX Aviation on more than 130 of its 777 and A350 aircraft.

With IFC the fastest-growing market segment for satellite operators, it will be interesting to see if Gogo makes further inroads into the Middle East, or if more airlines adopt a mixed approach for their connectivity providers.

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