Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat's new CEO

Inmarsat appoints new CEO

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Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat's new CEO

Inmarsat has announced Rajeev Suri, former Nokia CEO, to succeed Rupert Pearce with effect from 1 March 2021.

Pearce will step down as CEO from 28 February 2021. Suri, who will be based in the UK, will also become a director of Connect Bidco Limited, the holding company for Inmarsat,

Suri said: “I am very excited to join Inmarsat, and to work closely with such skilled people, at such an important moment for the company and the satellite communications industry as a whole. I have been very impressed by the capabilities and ambitions of the company and its partner community and wish to pay tribute to their ethos, drive and ingenuity. Together, they have established technology leadership in satellite mobility, underpinned by a unique understanding of the customer.”

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.”

EAN infographic showing how EAN works

EAN reaches latest activation milestone

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EAN infographic showing how EAN works

The European Aviation Network (EAN) has passed its latest milestone, reaching its 250th activation on a commercial aircraft.

It is currently available on International Airlines Group (IAG) member aircraft of  British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

EAN has been developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, in partnership with Thales, Nokia, Airbus, Cobham and Eclipse Technics.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “EAN has transformed the in-flight broadband market in Europe, offering unprecedented performance that has been truly embraced by airlines and their passengers. Usage has consistently increased since it entered commercial service and EAN experienced record data traffic in the summer and autumn months last year, reflecting an even stronger desire to stay connected amongst passengers flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An important factor in crossing more than 250 aircraft activations, including British Airways’ entire short-haul fleet, has been the record-breaking installation time we have achieved with EAN – less than nine hours per aircraft. This will ensure a smooth rollout on remaining IAG aircraft and we’re excited that even more passengers will soon have access to the industry’s best-in-class inflight connectivity, providing the same quality of broadband that people expect on the ground, from the comfort of their cabin.”

Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier and Global Business said: “EAN is perfectly adapted to Europe’s unique telco infrastructure and a true game-changer in in-flight connectivity. For passengers, it offers an unparalleled connectivity experience while in the air above the European continent. For carriers, it provides a highly compelling business case due to its lightweight, small and low maintenance equipment.”

Satcom Direct is a long-serving Inmarsat JetconneX reseller

SD celebrates activation milestone

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Satcom Direct is a long-serving Inmarsat JetconneX reseller

Satcom Direct (SD) has activated 500 terminals for aerospace customers subscribing to Inmarsat’s High Throughput Satellite (HTS) Global Xpress network.

“The activation of 500 Jet ConneX terminals using Inmarsat’s GX constellation demonstrates that connectivity has become an essential part of aviation today,” said Chris Moore, SD President Business Aviation. “In addition to delivering powerful communications to improve in-flight productivity, the collection, aggregation and analysis of data generated by the aircraft improves flight operations, enhances efficiency and improves financial management. As Inmarsat continues to bolster its outstanding Global Xpress constellation, SD continues to develop services enabling optimization of the data capability. It’s a powerful combination for a data-hungry aerospace sector.”

SD was the first business aviation communications provider to provision its services and transmit data over Inmarsat’s first two Global Xpress satellites, and has been a Value Added Reseller of the Global Xpress HTS constellation since launch in 2015.

“SD continues to provide visionary services to its customers and Inmarsat is just as committed to supporting the customer experience. We can only continue to do that by closely collaborating with our partners to keep delivering exciting new global connectivity services to the aerospace market,” said Kai Tang, Senior Vice President of Business and General Aviation (BGA) at Inmarsat.

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.

FlightPlan 2.0 promotion

FlightPlan returns to debate strategies for recovery

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FlightPlan 2.0 promotion

FlightPlan, the aviation industry’s largest-ever virtual convening, will return on 10 November 2020 to bring the latest in expert analysis and debate regarding the future of air travel. Hosted by Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, and APEX, the leading international airline passenger experience association, the unique event will delve into the industry’s biggest challenges in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and explore strategies to accelerate recovery.

The upcoming broadcast event is a follow-up to the hugely successful ‘FlightPlan: Charting a Course for the Future’, which aired during the initial weeks of the prolonged aviation crisis in April, bringing together a host of leading voices from across the industry. The all-day livestream grew into a significant industry initiative, inspiring an audience of thousands from 100 countries worldwide, watching live and on-demand.

Six months on, with aviation still in the depths of its most extreme crisis to date, ‘FlightPlan: Strategies for Recovery’ will connect leaders on the digital stage once again, through a unique combination of streamed interviews, virtual panels, live discussion and audience interaction.

The discussion will be open and wide-ranging, with an emphasis on technology and innovation, passenger experience, airline operations, sustainability and digital transformation. A key highlight will be the results of the largest global passenger confidence survey completed since the pandemic began.

Participants will include speakers from leading industry bodies such as the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and CAPA – Centre for Aviation, in addition to airlines such as Aeromexico, Air China, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, easyJet, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Oman Air, and Virgin Atlantic. Also taking part are aviation ecosystem partners such as Airbus, Boeing, Collins Aerospace, Deutsche Telekom, FlightRadar, Honeywell Aerospace, Panasonic Avionics, Rolls-Royce, SimpliFlying, and SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, together with media partners APEX Media, Gethin’s Inflight News, Globetrender, Inflight Magazine, Paxex.aero, and Simple Flying.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “No industry has been hit as profoundly by the shock of this pandemic as commercial aviation. The global impact has been compounded by unpredictable national policies, uncertain passenger confidence and an unprecedented fall in demand – putting airlines under extraordinary pressure and dismantling the ecosystem that supports them.

“But time and time again, aviation has proven itself to be a more resilient industry than most and once this pandemic is finally contained, airlines must be given a fighting chance to lead a global economic recovery by re-connecting the world. ‘FlightPlan: Strategies for Recovery’ returns on 10 November to give the industry a much-needed shot in the arm.”

Dr. Joe Leader, Chief Executive Officer of APEX, stated: “FlightPlan provided the first aviation industry-wide webinar in April and six months later, APEX looks forward to partnering with Inmarsat for this important follow-up. The event will delve into the solutions and strategies that will genuinely advance aviation into recovery. We are moving into an era where blockade-like quarantines will be replaced with strongly validated testing. We are flying forward in a manner where, despite the challenges, our airline industry sees the light of returned success on the horizon for 2021.”

Register interest now at flightplan.wavecast.io.

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.

Cranfield University’s DARTeC center

Inmarsat supports Cranfield University’s DARTeC initiative

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Cranfield University’s DARTeC center

Inmarsat is to provide engineering support, communications services and equipment to Cranfield University’s Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) consortium, which is set to open during the first quarter of 2021.

DARTeC will spearhead UK research into digital aviation technology.

Inmarsat and Honeywell Aerospace will support the Centre’s research by providing Aspire 400 satellite communications terminals, airtime and engineering expertise in the Saab 340B flying testbed and test lab for evaluation and development of future applications and solutions. The Saab 340B will effectively serve as a ‘flying laboratory’ to evaluate multiple advanced radar systems and airborne digital communications.

John Broughton, Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, Inmarsat Aviation said: “Advances in digital aviation are driving innovation opportunities in all aspects of the airline industry. Today’s commitment with Honeywell Aerospace to support DARTeC highlights the importance of creating a collaborative research environment in the aviation industry. We are looking forward to working closely with other members of the DARTeC community to reap the rewards of a digital aviation industry for many years to come.”

Mark Goodman, Director of Product Management, Honeywell Aerospace said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Inmarsat to support the DARTeC consortium and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to the aviation industry. There is no time to waste in responding to the opportunities of digital transformation and ensuring that the industry is ready to serve the needs of our airlines today and tomorrow.”