Honeywell aims for three inflight connectivity solutions

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Honeywell Ka-band antenna for Inmarsat's GX Aviation service.
Honeywell Ka-band antenna for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation service.

Honeywell Aerospace has fingers in more than one pie when it comes to inflight connectivity. As well as offering both L-band and Ka-band options from Inmarsat, it also recently signed a contract with AT&T for a new air to ground (ATG) network in the US.

The company will be the exclusive hardware provider for AT&T’s planned in-flight connectivity services, which will bring faster Wi-Fi to passengers on commercial airlines and business jets.

Honeywell says the new 4G LTE service will offer a significant improvement on today’s air-to-ground speeds when it becomes available at the end of 2015.

Passengers will be able to use a 4G LTE connection to watch video, text and surf the internet.

Honeywell will also be keen to pitch for the hardware contract for Inmarsat’s recently-announced ATG network for Europe.

So does this mean the company is abandoning its GX (Ka-band) and Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (L-Band) satellite systems?

Far from it. Mike Beazley, Honeywell’s VP of aftermarket sales, says that the AT&T system will integrate with the other services.

“We are very busy with the L-band Inmarsat SwiftBroadband market, both in terms of forward and retrofit,” he said. “The Gulfstream G650 comes with Honeywell SwiftBroadband equipment fitted as standard and we can also count Dassault and Embraer as OEM customers too.”

Beazley said that the introduction of high data rate bearers (HDR) with Inmarsat’s L-band SwiftBroadband service has also seen data rates almost double from 432 kbps to around 700 kbps.

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But that is nothing compared with the (up to) 50 Mbps that will be available via Inmarsat’s GX Ka-band service when it is launched in 2015. Honeywell is developing both the commercial and business aviation variants of the antenna/terminals for the system.

Honeywell’s JetWave hardware will support Jet ConneX (JX) – the business aviation service to be powered by Inmarsat’s Ka-band GX network and which will offer up to 33 Mbps.

Brian Sill, Honeywell’s President of Business and General Aviation, said: “We are still progressing with developing the hardware for GX.

“And we were pleased to announce recently the sales of two shipsets of Jetwave to Germany-based maintenance, repair and overhaul company Haitec Aircraft Maintenance for fitment on two charter Airbus ACJ319s.”

Sill said that the delay to the global launch of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress service caused by the recent failure of a Proton launcher doesn’t really affect what it is doing.

“If anything it allows us a little more time to move head with testing,” Sill said.

Meanwhile, Inmarsat has its first GX Ka-band satellite in position to serve Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The delay will affect the launch of the other two I-5 satellites that will serve the Americas and the Pacific.

Honeywell is also celebrating its 100th birthday this week. Wednesday marks the centenary of the rich heritage of companies that have helped make Honeywell what it is today, including Sperry, which introduced the first autopilot in 1914, Garrett, Bendix and AlliedSignal.


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