AIX: Rockwell Collins close to finishing first GX install

A passenger using Rockwell Collins' PAVES Wireless system.
A passenger using Rockwell Collins’ inflight connectivity

Rockwell Collins says it is putting the finishing touches to an Inmarsat GX Aviation installation with its launch eastern European customer and is moving ahead with GX on Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Air Astana signed a contract with Rockwell Collins for broadband in-flight connectivity using Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band solution in April 2016.

The airline is installing the high-speed GX connectivity on its fleet of three Boeing 767 airliners.

Richard Nordstrom, Rockwell Collins’ Senior Director, Global Marketing, said: “We are putting the finishing touches to the first aircraft, which should enter service shortly.” he said.

The aircraft will have connectivity with Wi-Fi and a customised wireless solution with a bespoke passenger interface.

Nordstrom said tests with the Inmarsat GX satellite system have proved very encouraging with 10-30 second satellite hand-offs and seamless beam-beam switching.

“The beams have also shown to be consistent in performance from beam-to-beam edge. GX provides the same excellent availability and consistent performance we have seen from Inmarsat’s previous satellite networks,” Nordstrom said.

He added that Rockwell Collins was also well on the way with its Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) contract, to support their Boeing 737 MAX and 787 fleets. NAS has over 100 B737MAX and 30 B787 aircraft still to come with additional options at Boeing.

Inmarsat announced a “major European customer for GX” at last year’s Apex Expo, which “Get Connected” quickly deduced to be Norwegian.

Nordstrom said the Boeing TSA was well along with Norwegian’s Boeing 737 Max and 787 aircraft line-fit process with retrofits and the full line-fit programme starting in 2018.

Rockwell Collins is also developing an electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna that has no moving parts. This uses beam-forming techniques to bend the beam onto the satellite, with multiple network and frequency capabilities in later versions from one antenna.

The Ku-band ESA antenna is being designed for use by OneWeb, which is building a Ku constellation of more than 900 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

When launched, this will be the largest telecommunications constellation in orbit, providing approximately 10 terabits per second of low-latency, high-speed broadband to people around the globe.

The ESA antenna weighs only 75lbs and is just two inches tall with an integrated radome to reduce drag and fuel costs, yet it can cover 2GHz of Ku bandwidth.

For more information about the ESA see “Get Connected’s” video from Hamburg and our interview with Rockwell Collins’ Lee Paulsen.

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