A joint venture has been agreed between British satellite company, Inmarsat, and Beijing’s Marine Communications and Navigation (MCN) to develop aircraft communications solutions for the cabin and the flight deck for the Chinese commercial aviation market.
Inmarsat’s latest offering, GX Aviation, will feature highly in the joint venture, providing in-flight connectivity solutions to give global coverage, as will SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S).
China’s aircraft passengers will soon be able to enjoy broadband at speeds comparable to the ground-based services, and will be able to use their personal mobile devices.
The agreement is expected to be finalised later this year.
A new communications satellite has been launched by Intelsat this week, the first of its latest EpicNG range. Intelsat 29e has been designed to provide low-cost connectivity for the North American routes for both air and sea and will eventually become part of a seven-strong satellite network.
The satellite will be used to deliver fast passenger communications onboard aircraft, as today’s demands increase for connectivity. Currently, both business and commercial aircraft are able to provide aircraft broadband at increasingly higher speeds and bandwidth, with many employing the Inmarsat satellite network, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect, who provide passenger connectivity exclusively for business jets.
Business passengers are probably the most demanding when it comes to aircraft broadband, as they want and need to continue working onboard as effectively as they can in their ground-based office environments.
Virgin America’s passengers will soon be able to make the most of their Netflix membership during flights thanks to a new partnership agreement between the airline and the online media provider.
Using the aircraft’s onboard WiFi, Netflix programmes will be accessible via live streaming to passenger’s personal devices at no additional cost.
Airline connectivity is a booming market as passenger demand grows and competitive packages increase in availability across the industry. Faster WiFi via the latest satellite technology enables the opportunity for live streaming and improved access for passengers using their mobile devices.
Inmarsat’s latest satellite communications system, Global Xpress, scheduled to deliver global aviation broadband at speeds of up to 50mpbs later this year, is currently being used to aid the Nepal Earthquake Rescue teams as they co-ordinate relief to the devastated country.
The GX system, which is being tested before going officially into service, is providing communications support and broadband to the teams, as the country’s communications infrastructure was damaged during last month’s earthquake.
Global Xpress will eventually comprise of four satellites, the third of which is expected to be launched in June 2015.
Gogo, business aircraft communications provider, announced the launch of a new service at the AEA International Convention & Trade Show this week. The ATG 1000 is a new system for connectivity that is aimed at the light private aircraft market, offering passengers the chance to use their own personal smartphones inflight for calls and texts.
Additional services such as web browsing, can be added using a software key, offering complete flexibility for operators wishing to provide basic services.
This new offering from Gogo joins the passenger communications revolution sweeping the industry as traveller demand increases for affordable, yet fast connection speeds.
Business jet owners and operators are seeking solutions for inflight communications on all levels from the cabin to the cockpit to enable streamlined operations.
Other inflight connectivity providers, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect, offer passenger communications with high-speed broadband to give larger operators and charter companies the capability of an office-in-the-sky, almost a prerequisite in the modern cabin.
SATCOM Direct have opened new offices in Melbourne, Ottawa and Denver, bringing their totals now to nine international and five U.S. offices.
The company, who provide training, support and SATCOM consultations for pilots, maintenance departments and flight crews, will be celebrating the opening of the Melbourne, Australia office at AVALON – the Australia International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Expo.
“This expansion supports our mission to provide total solutions to our customers. We are where they are,” said David Greenhill, SATCOM Direct president. “Each new location was strategically selected to serve our expanding customer base.”
Global satellite communications providers are in high demand in the aviation industry as passenger demand grows ever higher for inflight communications.
Echoing an industry-wide sentiment, Mike Minchow, Completions and Modifications Manager for Duncan Aviation said, “There is strong market demand for products that increase the productivity of business aircraft. Wireless internet certainly filled a need for business aviation, and Aircell has been a leader in that market. On-board Wi-Fi has completely transformed the travel experience, allowing operators to be much more efficient in the air and allowing for a true office-in-the-sky experience. Combining the benefits of our Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) and multiple locations, we’re able to offer owners a great deal of flexibility as well as the confidence that their aircraft is in the care of the most experienced technicians in the industry and a company known for its service and support”.
He spoke after Duncan Aviation reached a milestone 500 installations of in-flight broadband solutions, such as SwiftBroadband and Aircell GoGo Biz.
Business aviation passengers rate amongst the highest in terms of demand for in-flight broadband solutions, requiring seamless connections over long-range flights. The office-in-the-sky advantages for travellers needs include email, video conferencing, phone calls and fax operation, to name but a few. Inmarsat SwiftBroadband and Iridium solutions, such as those provided by ARINC Direct, can mean that there is no loss of signal, even when flying over vast oceanic expanses or Polar Regions.
Cabin services are set to be enhanced for global business awareness as Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways announced a partnership with EF Education First to provide language training via a cloud-based school.
The plans come in the wake of the recently-released corporate strategy for the airline as it plans to increase passenger operations by 45% over the next two years. Global expansion is a key factor and ANA believe that highly-trained and prepared personnel can contribute to their plans.
ANA was last year awarded the Skytrax 5-star Airline ranking for the quality of cabin services, airport operations and enhancements to the service provided for international passengers.
President and CEO of ANA, Osamu Shinobe has high hopes for his airline, ‘As a full service carrier that is aiming to become the world’s leading airline, we want to further enhance the level of service that is provided by our employees. EF has an excellent track record in providing quality language training programs and this partnership will boost our improvement efforts. I have high expectations that this partnership will lead to even better services for our customers.’
President of EF Education First, Mr Peter Burmann said, ‘We are extremely proud to partner with ANA and support them in reaching their English goals. Our industry-specific expertise makes us well-suited to deliver the necessary customised training to ANA and we are looking forward to starting the training and seeing outstanding results.’
Expanding communications bandwidth may soon broaden the horizons for aircraft internet that pass way beyond passenger connectivity. With increasing computer technology, greater bandwidth and storage capacity, the ability for aircraft to use data sharing and facilitate decision-making with web-based applications brings it all a step closer.
Inmarsat, a British satellite network operator, is a huge name already in aviation, using the far-reaching capabilities of the network for aircraft communications in L-band services. Honeywell is currently working with Inmarsat on the development of the avionics for the new generation of Global Xpress satellites that will operate in Ka-band. Ka-band will bring faster data rates and widen the possibilities for streaming and allowing operators to think ahead of passenger communications.
Honeywell have completed the critical design reviews for Global Xpress and will begin testing this month. The first of three Inmarsat-5 satellites was launched late last year and the rest are expected to be in place by early next year.