Gilat's ESA from above

Gilat and Inmarsat in successful GX Express test

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Gilat's ESA from above

In an industry first, Gilat Satellite Networks has successfully tested its Electronically Steered Antenna (ESA) over Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) network in a live demonstration on an operational GX satellite.

Gilat’s open-architecture proven ESA has been integrated with Inmarsat’s G-MODMAN solution.

Gilat’s self-pointing antenna logged-on automatically to the GX network, supporting bi-directional real-time communication in both fixed and dynamic antenna positioning modes. Beam steering under the changing elevation and skew angles was done while managing the power spectral density (PSD) threshold, in order to minimise interference with neighbouring satellites, in accordance with regulations.

Jerome Soumagne, Chief Engineer, VP Networks at Inmarsat commented: “The seamless integration of our G-MODMAN with Gilat’s antenna control system, via standard open interfaces, is a key enabler to demonstrate the ability to support Electronic Steered Array Technology in Inmarsat’s global satellite network.”

Inmarsat GX5 rendering

Inmarsat’s GX5 satellite ushers in news era for GX Aviation and Jet ConneX (JX) in-flight Wi-Fi services

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Inmarsat GX5 rendering

GX5, Inmarsat’s newest and most advanced satellite to date has entered into commercial service serving the aviation needs of Europe and the Middle East.

The satellite’s orbital position, at 11° East, provides an optimal position for European connectivity services and has been designed specifically for regional demand and air traffic patterns over Europe and the Middle East’s busiest airspaces.

GX5 is the 14th satellite currently in service with Inmarsat and heralds the start of a major development programme to enhance the GX network’s capacity and capabilities.

According to Inmarsat, GX5 delivers approximately twice the capacity of the entire existing GX satellite fleet (GX1-GX4) combined.

GX5 is designed to provide connectivity services to existing GX terminals, whilst providing a step change in connectivity for next generation terminals being introduced in the near future.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “We are delighted to take the next step in this ambitious roadmap with GX5’s entry into commercial service. This is our most powerful satellite to date, delivering more capacity over Europe and the Middle East than the four existing GX satellites combined. In addition to transforming the quality of aviation connectivity today, it will ensure that our customers remain at the cutting-edge of technology innovation as their needs evolve and air traffic recovers in 2021 and beyond.”

Inmarsat’s technology roadmap will see seven further launches by 2024: five in geostationary orbit – adding speed, capacity and resilience – and two in highly elliptical orbit, which will enable the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service in the commercially and strategically critical Arctic region.

Aircraft being fitted with ThinKom Ka antenna to support Inmarsat GX Aviation

Inmarsat picks ThinKom antenna for GX Aviation services

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Aircraft being fitted with ThinKom Ka antenna to support Inmarsat GX Aviation

Following an 18-month period of field testing with system integrator GDC Technics, Inmarsat has selected ThinKom’s low-profile Ka-band Ka2517 phased-array antenna for its GX terminal and associated in-flight broadband services.

The Ka2517 will serve as a critical enabling technology underpinning Inmarsat’s GX Aviation broadband satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) solutions, including the new GX+ North American IFC service announced by Inmarsat and Hughes Network Systems earlier this year.

ThinKom’s low-profile radome minimises drag and reduces fuel usage. The VICTS antenna provides industry-leading spectral efficiency and throughput, as well as uninterrupted pole-to-pole connectivity at extremely high and low elevation angles. In addition, the antenna’s very low power consumption translates into very low heat generation inside the radome, enabling uninterrupted gate-to-gate operation even during high ambient temperatures with full solar loading.

“The Ka2517 antenna fully complies with new regulatory requirements, including WRC-19 EISM and ITU Article 22, ensuring non-interference with terrestrial 5G cellular networks or with GEO satellites when being used on NGSO networks,” said Bill Milroy, Chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions. “It also offers the switching speeds and agility to interoperate seamlessly with new multi-layered GEO, HEO and NGSO satellite networks.”

GDC’s next-generation IFC terminals with ThinKom’s antennas have received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. GDC has planned a full range of STCs in early 2021 for the Airbus A320 family, additional 737 models, and Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft.

Aircraft on runway

Next gen GX Aviation in-flight broadband terminal unveiled

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Aircraft on runway

Inmarsat and GDC Technics have unveiled the next-generation terminal for the GX Aviation in-flight broadband solution.

The light weight, low drag terminal is now available to airlines. The next-generation terminal includes a robust flat panel antenna developed by Thinkom, which has millions of flight hours behind it. In addition, it has been integrated with smart dual aero modem technology that supports Inmarsat’s ground-breaking new GX+ North America service, announced with Hughes Network Systems last week.

The new GDC Technics terminal has been certified and is now flying on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Additional retrofit and linefit certifications are currently in progress and expected to be available by the end of this year, including retrofit options for the Airbus A320/330 family, and the Boeing B787 and B777 aircraft. Customers can either select a ‘low profile’ configuration for the terminal, or an option with standard tri-band radomes for the retrofit market.

Inmarsat and Hughes launch GX+ North America IFC solution

Inmarsat and Hughes deploy GX+ North America

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Inmarsat and Hughes launch GX+ North America IFC solution

Inmarsat and Hughes Network Systems has launched GX+ North America, an in-flight connectivity solution designed specifically for North American commercial airlines.

GX+ North America combines the capacity of the Hughes JUPITER High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) constellation across North America with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) HTS satellite network.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “It is truly a ‘no compromise’ solution for airlines that no other service provider can offer. We’ve also ensured the transition path for airlines upgrading from other connectivity providers is simple, quick and cost efficient.

“This strategic collaboration is further evidence of Inmarsat’s strength, resilience and innovation despite these unprecedented times in our industry. As a number of connectivity providers in North America face financial challenges and airlines are forced to reconsider their choice of supplier, Inmarsat’s offer continues to go from strength to strength.”

The new solution will be provided and managed end-to-end by Inmarsat. Prototype flights are expected to start later this year with commercial availability scheduled for 2021.

GX+ North America utilises a robust Ka-band flat panel antenna from Thinkom, with millions of flight hours behind it, together with smart dual aero modem technology powered by Inmarsat’s aviation solutions that intelligently chooses the optimal satellite path with no service interruption or delay for passengers.

Looking forward, as commercial aviation returns to growth and aircraft return to the skies, Inmarsat and Hughes will continue to anticipate and respond to the North American market’s evolving needs. Expanding the service over the next four years alone, the Hughes and Inmarsat combined constellation of seven GX and JUPITER satellites will more than double to a total of 15 spacecraft. These additional satellites include the Hughes ultra-high capacity JUPITER 3 satellite and Inmarsat’s seven advanced, fully-funded next generation GX satellite payloads (6A, 6B, 7, 8, 9, 10A & 10B), which will enhance capacity and coverage throughout the world, including the Arctic.

Qatar Airways uses Inmarsat's GX Aviation for its IFC service

Qatar Airways continues roll-out of GX Aviation

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Qatar Airways uses Inmarsat's GX Aviation for its IFC service

Qatar Airways has launched its ‘Super Wi-Fi’ service on its 100th aircraft, becoming the largest operator of aircraft equipped with the GX Aviation technology from Inmarsat on board in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

The service is being rolled out across the airline’s fleet of Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft. The service has been used by millions of the airline’s passengers since 2018, when it became GX Aviation’s launch customer in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Qatar Airways passengers on flights fitted with GX Aviation can receive up to one-hour free access to the Super Wi-Fi service, with the ability to purchase full-flight access if more online time is needed. To honour the loyalty of its valued Privilege Club members, Qatar Airways is offering them up to two complimentary Super Wi-Fi vouchers when they book online between 9 September and 1 October 2020. Other passengers can take advantage of this exclusive offer by signing up to Privilege Club using the enrollment code SUPERWIFI. Terms and conditions apply.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “As a leader of innovation within the global aviation industry, Qatar Airways already operates one of the youngest and most technologically-advanced fleet in the skies. Where other airlines are reducing their Wi-Fi offering, Qatar Airways is expanding it.

“With connection to our loved ones and friends now more important than ever during these challenging times, we are delighted to work with Inmarsat and its GX Aviation technology to bring high-speed Super Wi-Fi broadband to passengers on board our fleet as part of Qatar Airways’ exceptional five-star service. We are also pleased to extend full-flight Super Wi-Fi connectivity to our loyal Privilege Club members across the globe.”

Passengers enjoying entertainment on a laptop

Lufthansa Group offers Deutsche Telekom customers free in-flight Wi-Fi access

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Passengers enjoying entertainment on a laptop

Residential customers of Deutsche Telekom are receiving free in-flight broadband on all domestic, short and medium haul flights operated by Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines).

Introduced towards the end of April 2020 the offer has now been extended until the end of 2021.

“According to a Bitkom survey, every other German would like to surf the Internet free-of-charge onboard an airplane,” says Hagen Rickmann, Board Member Business Customers at Deutsche Telekom. “We are now responding to this request and expanding our Wi-Fi offering on the plane. From now on, private customers can also surf free of charge on European flights of the Lufthansa Group.”

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom are working together to enable advanced roaming services, allowing subscribers of mobile network operators and Wi-Fi service providers to automatically access the in-flight Wi-Fi service.

“The simplicity of a plug-and play experience is the key reason why 40% of mobile subscribers in Europe actively use cellular roaming services when abroad. We now have the technology to fully emulate that cellular roaming experience on a flight. Merely turn on your smartphone and start using the inflight Wi-Fi services,” explains Asbjorn Christoffersen, Inmarsat Aviation’s Vice President of Retail Revenue Management.

“Starting with mobile app-based roaming – using the WISPr technology – we’ll expect to rapidly transition to fully automated cellular style roaming using Passpoint technology.”

Passengers are billed via their regular mobile network subscription.

As part of the campaign, Deutsche Telekom customers with a Magenta Mobil M tariff or higher can book the ‘Inflight Europa Flat’ Wi-Fi free of charge. For business customers, the flat rate is now also available free of charge from the Business Mobil M rate onwards. The tariff option is simply booked before the journey starts. The offer also applies to business customers of Magyar Telekom, Hrvatski Telekom, Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic, who use the One App instead of Deutsche Telekom’s Connect App.

The offer of free GX Aviation inflight broadband will be communicated via onboard announcements. Passengers can either login onto the connectivity service manually (via the portal of the respective airline) or through Deutsche Telekom’s Connect App. GX Aviation is available as soon as cruising altitude is reached. The app then automatically displays the available Wi-Fi and asks whether a connection should be established.

Boeing 777X taking off

Boeing 777X to benefit from ‘smart pipe’ technology

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Boeing 777X taking off

Inmarsat is collaborating with Boeing to offer ‘smart pipe’ technology onboard its 777X aircraft.

The technology independently allocates connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications from the cockpit to the cabin. Operational benefits include predictive maintenance, route optimisation, modernised air traffic management and real-time crew communications. Passengers will benefit from enhanced passenger entertainment, including high-speed internet and live television.

Applications delivered on Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) are each able to have a unique service level agreement and guaranteed performance levels, independent of other applications that are also operating through the same terminal.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “With the addition of ‘smart pipe’ functionality, we are paving the way for a more connected and integrated future, which is crucial for airlines around the world that are transforming their business with the power of digital technology.

“This is a significant milestone in developing the truly connected aircraft. The results from initial tests for our ‘smart pipe’ are promising and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Boeing in preparation for the forthcoming entry into service of its new 777X aircraft.”

Inmarsat’s new ‘smart pipe’ technology will initially be available to airlines that have either ordered or plan to order the Boeing 777X. In addition, these capabilities will be available as upgrades on other aircraft models.

Air Cote D'Ivoire

Air Côte d’Ivoire extends SITAONAIR partnership

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Ivory Coast airline, Air Côte d’Ivoire, is extending its partnership with SITAONAIR for in-flight connectivity across its new fleet of A320neo aircraft.

With deployment expected in September 2020, the new fleet will enter service with SITAONAIR’s Mobile ONAIR and Internet ONAIR Wi-Fi over Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network.

“It’s true that passenger expectations are growing. There is also increasing pressure to provide tailored services that cover the breadth of our passengers’ needs and data consumption,” commented René Decurey, Chief Executive Officer, Air Côte d’Ivoire. He added that the airline has opted to work with SITAONAIR as it continues to concentrate on providing “enhanced, new generation in-flight connectivity services” for passengers.

SITAONAIR said its Internet ONAIR portal will also provide the airline with a host of additional services and the potential for new ancillary revenues – as well as personalised content for its passengers. Through SITAONAIR’s Mobile ONAIR services passengers can enjoy a mobile connection in-flight, similar to their experience on the ground, while the company suggests increased connectivity bandwidth provides enhanced reliability.

Stephan Egli, Commercial VP Middle-East, Africa & Europe, SITAONAIR, added: “Having previously deployed SITAONAIR’s Internet ONAIR solution over SwiftBroadband, the move to GX reflects Air Côte d’Ivoire’s dedication to delivering true passenger satisfaction that’s future-proofed.”

Saudi Arabia + Inmarsat

Inmarsat brings connectivity services to Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia + Inmarsat

Inmarsat has signed partner agreements with Sada Al Ammah and Global Beam Telecom to deliver cockpit safety services and passenger cabin broadband Wi-Fi connectivity (GX Aviation for commercial airlines and Jet ConneX for business jets) to companies based in Saudi-Arabia, enabling airline and business aviation passengers to browse the internet, stream video and music, check and update social media and more during their flights.

“We are delighted to be working closely with Sada Al Ammah and Global Beam Telecom to offer our world-leading services in Saudi Arabia for the first time,” said Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise. “Our partners have a wealth of experience and understanding of the local markets, which coupled with the strength and reliability of Inmarsat’s services, make a powerful combination that we feel will provide a foundation for connectivity excellence and growth in the region.”

“Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing and important market for aviation connectivity solutions,” said Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation. “Inmarsat looks forward to working with commercial airlines in Saudi Arabia to upgrade them to the world’s leading aviation connectivity solutions, covering high-speed in-flight passenger broadband in the aircraft cabin and gold standard operations and safety in the cockpit.”