Honeywell Aerospace took its Boeing 757 test aircraft (N757HW) to the Paris Air Show for a day this week after successfully completing the first phase of flight tests for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight WiFi connectivity.
Its JetWave-branded hardware enables airplanes to connect to Inmarsat’s Ka-band Global Xpress satellite constellation.
For the first phase of the qualification and certification program, Honeywell used its B757 test aircraft outfitted with the JetWave system including the fuselage antenna for commercial airlines and other hardware, to test GX Aviation in the air.
The terminal hardware, but not the antenna, is common between the business and general aviation and air transport versions of the JetWave system.
Successful test results of the hardware will support the business aviation system testing, including the tiny tail-mounted dish antenna, planned for the third quarter of this year.
These current tests, which included streaming YouTube videos and live radio, online conference calls, file downloads and more, were conducted over the UK in mid June with flights out of Birmingham Airport.
The tests demonstrated a successful connection between the JetWave hardware and Inmarsat’s first Global Xpress satellite, I-5 F1, which powers GX Aviation services for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
This follows the ground-based high-speed and performance tests completed in March 2015.
Jack Jacobs, vice president of Safety and Connectivity at Honeywell Aerospace, said: “We are on the cusp of a new era of connectivity in the skies, and the successful testing of our JetWave hardware with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network is a critical step in getting this service ready for public use.
Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale added: “These flight tests are an exciting step toward the launch of GX Aviation and bringing a true broadband experience to the market. With GX Aviation, airlines and their passengers can finally experience a connectivity service equivalent to what they are used to on the ground.
“Just having inflight Wi-Fi on board is no longer a differentiator – in the future it will be about the quality of the service. With GX Aviation and Honeywell’s JetWave equipment, Inmarsat will provide a seamless, consistent passenger experience, across all airline routes.
“Everyone is talking about the ‘connected aircraft’ or ‘e-enabled aircraft’ – until now this has just been a vision because no one has had access to a true fast internet service. GX Aviation changes all that. We will set the standards for broadband in the sky.”
Mondale says the team of Honeywell, Inmarsat and iDirect staff are working very closely to bring GX to market.
Inmarsat is still waiting for a launch date for its third I-5 satellite and full global service launch is expected in early 2016.