Honeywell says it is well under way with the testing of its JetWave antennas for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band system, planned for full service launch next summer.
The company is working on two antennas – a steerable fuselage-mounted model for commercial airliners and VVIP aircraft and a tail-mounted parabolic dish for bizjets.
The first should help GX users achieve maximum channel speeds of around 50Mbps, and the bizjet option should top out at about 33 Mbps. The actual speeds achievable will depend on a number of factors, including the overall service package bought from the provider.
John Broughton, Honeywell’s Director Marketing and Product Management, said: “We have been testing the systems using our Inmarsat GX ground station installations in Ottawa, Canada and Tewkesbury, UK.
“We have a full installation of both antenna types at Tewkesbury – the fuselage mount and the tail-mount models – plus the terminals, ready for our first in-air flight testing.
“We have also started the formal DO-160 certification testing that we need to do for the FAA and EASA. We’ll take the terminal through a pre-qualification phase where we run all the tests required for the final certification, to make we have a good product.”
The in-air testing will initially be done over the UK (where the first GX I-5 satellite is above the horizon). Subsequent tests will be also be completed in Ottawa, once the second I-5 is launched (potentially in January 2015) and in its final orbital position, covering both the North American and South American continents.
Broughton said that the first Ka-capable radome is also now out of its mould and will shortly undergo bird-strike testing.
The fuselage-mounted antenna will fit commercial and VVIP airliners, as well as the Airbus ACJ and Boeing BBJ.
Honeywell is working with Haitec in Germany to obtain an STC for the ACJ. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the maintenance, repair and overhaul company to deliver its JetWave in-flight Wi-Fi hardware for two charter Airbus ACJ319 aircraft owned and operated by Tyrolean Jet Services.
But Broughton said that Honeywell is also aiming to introduce the tail-mounted antenna for the BBJ as well.
“The BBJ market is really important for us and we have some customers who have expressed a lot of interest in having Ka-band onboard.
“Most of the bizjet operators still prefer the tail-top antennas and as we already sell a tail-mount antenna for Ku-band applications on the BBJ we are working on an STC for the Ka-band variant too,” Broughton said.
Honeywell is also working with Bombardier to ensure it the launch business aircraft manufacturer for Honeywell’s JetWave solution.
Bombardier plans to offer the technology across the Global 5000, Global 6000, Global 7000 and Global 8000 platforms. A retrofit offering will also be available for all Global aircraft currently in service.
Beyond that, Honeywell is looking to obtain STC’s for a number of Gulfstream and Dassault aircraft – Honeywell has a Falcon 900 for executive use, so it comes high on the list!
Initial flight testing will commence in Europe and probably be transitioned to North America in due course.
Both the second and third (F2 and F3) Inmarsat I-5 satellites have now been built by Boeing in El Segundo, near Los Angeles and the fourth (which will either act as a launch spare or will ultimately add extra capacity if all three satellites launch successfully) is under construction.
Broughton said both the F2 and F3 satellites now have their export permits and are awaiting transport to the Baikonur launch site.