APEXEXPO: Airbus flight tests new connectivity architecture

Airbus tested the new HBC architecture on an A330.
Airbus tested the new HBC architecture on an A330.

Airbus says it has successfully flight-tested its new standard High-Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) architecture aboard an A330 development aircraft.

The platform will soon allow airline customers to choose from a range of new high-throughput satellite technologies, including Ka-Band, L-band (SwiftBroadband) and Ku-Band.

It will also enable customers to do this independently from an airline’s choice of IFE supplier, including Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii), Panasonic, Thales, and Rockwell Collins.

The new HBC platform will be rolled-out from mid-2017 onwards and will become available across Airbus aircraft families.

Airbus HBC

For this initial flight-test, the HBC platform was demonstrated together with the new offering from Zii, which is based around Inmarsat’s new Global Xpress Ka-Band satellite network that offers continuous worldwide high-bandwidth coverage.

Panasonic Avionics Corporation was most recently selected as a supplier for line-fit solutions (across all A320, A330 and A380 product families) and are compatible with Airbus’ new HBC architecture.

Airbus says its HBC development currently encompasses A320/A330/A380 solutions from the four selected HBC lead suppliers mentioned above, both for line-fit and retro-fit.

It is introducing in-service retrofits of HBC solutions for its airline customers and Finnair and Iberia selected Airbus to equip their single-aisle and wide-body fleets.

Airlines will be able to offer the best high-speed wireless internet networks for a fully-connected in-flight passenger experience aboard Airbus single-aisle and wide-body families, including the A350 (line-fit) and A380.

The engineering, installation and certification of these connectivity retrofits are being developed with the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) – which is co-located next to the Toulouse aircraft Final Assembly Lines and Engineering Design offices.

The company says ACJC’s expertise in customised cabin and systems upgrades and the fact that it holds full Airbus’ “Design Organization Approval” (DOA) authority, assures that these modifications comply fully with Airbus’ quality, performance, and aircraft architecture requirements.

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