SITA OnAir says it is developing the first EASA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation high-speed Ka-band broadband service. It is working with EAD Aerospace, an Eclipse company, on the STC to retro fit Boeing 777 aircraft, on behalf of an undisclosed airline customer.
This is good news for SITA OnAir, and comes on the back of Inmarsat’s recent announcement that the launch of its third satellite for the GX constellation has been rescheduled for later this month.
Honeywell is also progressing with the testing of its fuselage-mounted antenna that will form the backbone of the GX system aboard commercial aircraft.
Inmarsat says it is therefore on track for the global launch of GX around the end of this year.
Ian Dawkins, CEO of SITA OnAir, said: “This STC will allow the installation and activation of connectivity covering SITA OnAir’s nose-to-tail e-Aircraft portfolio. This includes solutions and products for passengers, cabin crew, cockpit crew, aircraft data and maintenance, flight operations and air traffic control.
“What’s new is that inflight connectivity using high-throughput satellite networks extends the possibilities for passengers as well as airlines’ professional use. Airlines will be able to exchange data for operational purposes, and passengers will have the same internet speed they are used to at home.”
GX Aviation will provide up to 50Mbps to the aircraft, giving passengers high-speed Wi-Fi. This is much faster than Inmarsat’s current L-band SwiftBroadband service, as explained in our feature “L/Ku/Ka-band satellites – what does it all mean?”.
SITA OnAir already has more than 40 STCs, covering the retro fit of its L-band inflight connectivity systems on Airbus aircraft, including the A320 family types, A330s and A340s, as well as Boeing aircraft including B737s, B767s and B777s.
In addition, SITA OnAir systems are available as line fit on the entire Airbus fleet as well as on Boeing B777s and B787s. It is also a line fit option on selected VIP aircraft, including the Dassault Falcon 7X and Airbus Corporate Jets.
SITA OnAir’s STCs have been awarded by the major certification authorities across the world, including the FAA in the US, EASA in Europe, the Singapore CAA, and Japan’s CAB. Importantly, existing STCs can be reused for new airline orders. SITA OnAir can also adapt the STC to meet airlines’ specific technical, cosmetic and/or maintenance requirements.
“We have worked closely with EAD Aerospace on many STCs and I fully anticipate this will be a smooth process,” continued Dawkins. “In tandem, we are also working together to kick-start similar GX Aviation STCs on other aircraft types, including the A320 family.”
Marc Pinault, General Manager of Eclipse, said: “Our cooperation with OnAir is a good example of how the Eclipse acquisition of EAD Aerospace earlier this year allows our partners to benefit from Eclipse’s extensive background in satcom issues and EAD Aerospace’s Part 21 skills to ensure all variables relating to a satcom installation are taken into account when delivering an STC.”
The STC is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.
SITA OnAir is a key Distribution Partner for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation. With 400 airline customers operating more than 14,000 aircraft.