Inmarsat, provider of global, mobile satellite communications, recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of GX Aviation, its most successful passenger inflight broadband service to date. Since entering commercial service in 2016, the award-winning solution has been selected by more than 35 airlines worldwide, with a total order book of over 1,500 aircraft, approximately 550 of which are activated.
Powered by Global Xpress (GX), the first globally available broadband network, GX Aviation has transformed the airline passenger experience, providing reliable, consistent and high-speed infight connectivity on par with mobile Wi-Fi on the ground. It unlocks a host of new ancillary revenue streams for airlines and ensures they meet rising expectations from passengers to stay connected, browse the internet, stream video and audio, enjoy social media, shop online and more while on a flight.
Millions of passengers have enjoyed access to GX Aviation over the years, with major airline customers including Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, AirAsia, Eurowings, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Philippine Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. This list continues to grow, with installations underway or planned with existing and new customers, including SAUDIA, as announced at the Dubai Airshow last month.
This latest milestone for GX Aviation comes at a critical time for the aviation industry, with the pandemic having accelerated passenger demand for digital inflight experiences. Inmarsat’s 2021 Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest and most comprehensive global survey of its kind since the pandemic began, found that digital solutions that keep passengers connected and minimize their contact with cabin crew and fellow passengers can go a long way in boosting confidence. In addition, out of the 10,000 respondents, 41 percent believed inflight Wi-Fi had further increased in importance after the pandemic.
Philippe Carette, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said, “GX Aviation has transformed the global inflight broadband market, offering unprecedented performance that has been truly embraced by airlines and their passengers. We celebrate its fifth anniversary with our world-class partner ecosystem, including industry-leading distributors such as Safran, SITA, Thales, Collins Aerospace and Honeywell.
“Each of these companies has a relentless focus on providing the best possible onboard experience, so airlines can meet evolving passenger needs and maximize the vast commercial possibilities of inflight connectivity. Together, we have established GX Aviation as our most successful passenger broadband service and Inmarsat is investing more than ever to cement its leadership for decades to come.”
The GX network currently consists of five Ka-band satellites and Inmarsat’s technology roadmap will offer a number of major enhancements. Seven further satellites are set to launch by 2024, starting with the first Inmarsat-6, I-6 F1, in December 2021. This is the most sophisticated commercial communications satellite ever built and will be followed by four additional satellites in geostationary orbit — adding speed, capacity and resilience — and two in highly elliptical orbit, enabling the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.
However, GX is more than just a global satellite network, it is a complete end-to-end solution and Inmarsat has been equally ambitious in developing its ground stations, hardware, software and cybersecurity framework. This includes a next-generation terminal developed with GDC Advanced Technology, featuring GDC’s dual modem manager (MODMAN), with components by Kontron, together with a proven, reliable and high-performance flat panel antenna by ThinKom. Following a range of technology assessments and test flights, the powerful new terminal has demonstrated its ability to deliver the highest levels of connectivity, even over the world’s busiest airspaces.