Inmarsat says EAN satellite now ready for commercial service

The Ariane 5 lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana. Image: Arianespace.
The Ariane 5 with the European Aviation satellite lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana. Image: Arianespace.

Inmarsat has confirmed that the European Aviation satellite has successfully completed its in-orbit tests and now stands ready to support inflight internet services when the European Aviation Network (EAN) goes live later this year.

The satellite, built by France’s Thales Alenia Space, was launched by Arianespace in June this year.

EAN is the world’s first dedicated aviation connectivity solution to integrate space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless Wi-Fi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe.

Inmarsat says its strategic partner, Deutsche Telekom, is now well advanced in the construction of the complementary ground network, which will be fully integrated with the S-band satellite to deliver a truly seamless service for Europe’s airlines and their passengers.

EAN connectivity

An LTE ground station for the EAN. Image: Deutsche Telekom.
An LTE ground station for the EAN. Image: Deutsche Telekom.

As “Get Connected” explained in June when the satellite was launched, the 300 LTE-based ground stations will provide the air-to-ground connection to aircraft for EAN and the satellite will provide coverage over water and in regions where it has been difficult to install the cellular network.

Deutsche Telekom says the beauty of the ground segment is that it can be scaled around airport hubs and busy flight routes as required.

A system on board the aircraft automatically determines what signal – satellite or ground – is best and routes the data across the best/fastest channel accordingly.

International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes airline brands British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service.

The successful completion of spacecraft and payload testing of the S-band satellite further underlines the momentum that Inmarsat is building in the high-speed broadband inflight connectivity (IFC) market, which the company entered in October 2016 with the commercial introduction of GX Aviation, a worldwide service powered by its Ka-band, Global Xpress (Ka-band) satellite constellation.

Inmarsat now has more than 1,200 aircraft installations expected under signed contracts for its inflight connectivity services.

Mandates have been won from leading airlines worldwide including Avianca, Qatar Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa Group, International Airlines Group, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

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