APEX2015: Honeywell on target for Inmarsat GX antenna STC

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

Honeywell says that it should obtain an FAA STC for its fuselage-mounted MCS 8200 antenna for Inmarsat’s Ka-band Global Xpress (GX) system by the end of 2015.

It is currently finishing off the last round of flight testing aboard its Boeing 757 test aircraft in the UK, before the aircraft returns to Phoenix in a week’s time.

The flight tests, out of Birmingham Airport in the UK Midlands, have proved the [up to] 50Mbps system works as promised. Honeywell said that while it didn’t want to talk about the actual transfer speeds being seen during the tests, it “met expectations and was more than capable of downloading HD movie content from YouTube”.

A spokesperson said that one of the tests involved holding a Skype call without failure or break-up for up to 20 minutes, which it passed comfortably. They said the test pilot even used Skype to wish his son back in the US happy birthday while airborne.

Honeywell said that full manufacturing of the antenna is now under way in advance of the first STC. There are more than 15 different platforms listed for certification, with the Airbus STCs scheduled to be completed in 2016 and those on Boeing platforms by the end of 2017.

Another antenna has been delivered to Airbus so that it too can start testing on its platforms – both Qatar Airways and Air Caraibes are confirmed customers for GX on their A350 fleets and there are believed to be another three A350 customers in the wings.

Honeywell said that it was also installing its tail-mounted antenna for the GX JetWave service on a Bombardier Global 5000 and Falcon 900 for flight testing.

The Global 5000 will be flying from Hartford, Connecticut and Honeywell’s F900 is flying out of Deer Valley, Phoenix.

Inmarsat added that the Kymeta flat-panel meta-material antenna for GX is still in the early stages of development (TRL3) and is not expected to be ready until 2017/18.

A fourth I-5 satellite is being developed by Boeing, but no final decision has been made as to where it will be placed in orbit.

“Its location will depend upon how we see traffic developing once the service is under way,” said David Coiley, Inmarsat VP Aviation.

Finally, the S-band satellite that will support Inmarsat’s new hybrid ATG network in Europe (EuropaSat) is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and should be launched by the end of 2016.

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