Honeywell Aerospace says interest in its JetWave hardware for Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX Ka-band inflight connectivity system has been “fantastic”.
Speaking to “Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (Ebace) in Geneva, Jim MacDougal, Honeywell Aerospace’s Product Line Director, Cabin Satcom Hardware, said the equipment was in high demand now that the GX Aviation service is up and running.
He said interest was especially high in the business aviation market.
The Honeywell JetWave hardware consists of a small 10-pound tail-mount parabolic antenna and terminal for smaller aircraft and a larger 82.6-pound fuselage-mounted antenna for twin-aisle and larger aircraft.
But for the VVIP market, MacDougal said sometimes the smaller antenna is getting more interest from potential customers.
“The tail mount is a fraction of the size and weight of the larger antenna and is being selected for its aesthetic value by some VVIP customers,” he said. “They don’t want to see a radome on the top of their aircraft.”
The tail-mount antenna was designed to handle up to 15 Mbps, while its big brother was specified for up to 50Mbps. But as the current largest Jet ConneX business aviation package tops out at 15Mbps, the extra potential throughput capacity of the fuselage-mounted option isn’t really needed.
Inmarsat has hinted that this 15Mbps speed limit may be revisited as the system matures.
Four of the business aviation industry’s major private jet manufacturers now offer Jet ConneX as a line-fit option.
It is now becoming available as line-fit on Dassault Falcon business jets and will also be line-fit on the Embraer Lineage 1000E from early 2018. JetWave/Jet ConneX is already the preferred line-fit option on Gulfstream and Bombardier aircraft.
MacDougal said its first line-fit qualification programme for JetWave should finish this year. It already has 12 STCs completed for business jets and VVIP applications, plus there are more in the pipeline.
“By this time next year we should have more than 30 STCs for the JetWave hardware,” MacDougal said. “There is a huge after-market demand.”
Curt Gray, Honeywell’s Senior Director of Connectivity Support, said Honeywell is now looking at potential developments for its next generation of JetWave hardware.
“The JetWave satcom terminals will go through an upgrade programme, especially for the defence market, which needs access to a wider portion of the Ka-band spectrum” Gray said.
“We are also working with Inmarsat on a modem card that will offer compatibility with its next-generation of Ka-band satellites. The I-6 satellites, the first of which is scheduled for launch in 2020, will be dual L- and Ka-band, but the higher Ka-band frequency range will use the wider allocation.
“We are looking at making product improvements and adding new features at the same time,” he said.
“There is a big emphasis on the JetWave system software and how we can use it to bring in new features and incorporate feedback from customers,” Gray said.
Honeywell said that it now has 150 JetWave installations in the field and is learning a lot about the system and how it performs.
“The feedback on JetWave and GX Aviation has been very good and end users like the fact they have a single network, with a single operator and get consistent results. And being available globally, they can fly anywhere in the world and it still works,” Gray said.