After a successful entry to service, Inmarsat says it has had to upgrade its forecasts for the take-up of the Jet ConneX inflight connectivity service.
Speaking to “Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols at Ebace, Geneva, Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat’s Vice President, Business Aviation, said that since its rollout at NBAA things have been going “very, very well”.
He said it also has all four of the major business aircraft manufacturers under contract, which is a major milestone for them, and interest levels are high.
Jet ConneX was already the preferred line-fit option on Gulfstream and Bombardier aircraft, and Inmarsat announced at Ebace that Jet ConneX is also now available as line-fit on Dassault Falcon business jets and will be line-fit on Embraer Lineage 1000E executive jets from early 2018.
“Bombardier have been installing Jet ConneX for some time and Gulfstream is moving to production now,” said Weidemeyer.
“Gulfstream conducted an in-service evaluation with customers for a couple of months and it went really well.
“Jet ConneX has achieved close to 100 percent uptake with Gulfstream G650 private jet customers – it has already been installed on 15 G650 aircraft, months after achieving installation approval for the aircraft, with more than 50 additional installs expected on G650s this year alone.
“And now we have Embraer and Dassault on board – our power of four,” he said.
But this doesn’t mean that Inmarsat is resting on its laurels. In fact, plans for future expansion of the GX Aviation satellite network are well under way.
Inmarsat has its eye on future I-6 satellites, which will be dual L- and Ka-band, to support both SwiftBroadband (SB) and GX Aviation/Jet ConneX at the same time.
“Two I-6 satellites are under contract and due to launch in the 2020 time period. We will be adding more satellites beyond that in the future to increase our capacity,” Weidemeyer said.
SB is also being given a shot in the arm with the launch of the SwiftBroadband-Safety service, which is believed to be due to obtain full certification and approval later this year.
“We are also working on increasing the performance of the L-band technology used for SwiftBroadband,” he said.
The new I-6 satellites will also offer steerable Ka-band beams. “We can actually surgically place our beams to maximise capacity where it is needed,” he said.
Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) was awarded the contract to build the first two I-6 satellites for Inmarsat’s next-generation fleet in December 2015.
The Inmarsat-6 (I-6) satellites will be based on Airbus Defence and Space’s proven Eurostar platform in its E3000e variant, which exclusively uses electric propulsion for orbit raising.
The satellite will take advantage of the reduction in mass that electric propulsion technology enables for a dual-payload mission, with a large next-generation digitally processed payload.
I-6 F1, once launched, is designed to remain in service for a minimum of 15 years.