Yahsat, the UAE-based satellite operator, has announced the successful trial of a ground-based 50Mbps test, paving the way for an inflight connectivity demonstration with Etihad Airways Engineering at the Dubai Airshow.
The technology is the result of a partnership between Yahsat, du, Etihad Airways Engineering, Hughes Network Systems and Carlisle Interconnect and they say the high-speed broadband will be available for airlines to offer passengers within the next year.
Using Yahsat’s Al Yah 2 satellite and Ka-band technology, the ground-based test took place in Abu Dhabi, simulating the environment found on an Airbus A320 aircraft.
A mechanically-steered antenna, which looked to be dual Ku- and Ka-band, was used for the demonstration.
In 2015 Yahsat told “Get Connected” it was looking at a number of options, including using Ku-band satellites to fill in the gaps where there is no Ka coverage.
And like ViaSat with its Ku-Ka antenna, the company said it was talking to potential partners about developing its own dual antenna solution.
The company’s first satellite, Yahsat Y1A, was launched in April 2011, and the second, Y1B, in April 2012. Yahsat will launch its third satellite, Al Yah 3, by the end of 2017/early 2018, extending its coverage to Brazil and an additional 19 markets across Africa.
Following this successful ground-based test, it says selected guests will be invited to experience the ultra-fast connectivity for themselves onboard an Etihad Airways Engineering Flying Testbed Airbus A320 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, taking place from the 12th to 16th of November.
Yahsat and its partners say they plan to execute the key next steps over the coming year to roll out the solution to commercial airliners across the Middle East and beyond.
Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat, said, “We are incredibly proud to have brought together leading Emirati and global companies to achieve this milestone.
“It paves the way for Yahsat to bring further breakthrough technologies to the markets and segments it serves, adding another key pillar to Yahsat’s portfolio of market leading services and solutions.
“We look forward to showcasing the technology at the Dubai Airshow, and ultimately transforming the in-flight connectivity experience for passengers”
Abdul Khaliq Saeed, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways Engineering, said, “This is a first for commercial aviation and Etihad Airways Engineering is delighted to be part of this exciting and challenging project.
“Innovation is part of the DNA here in the UAE, with local companies, always looking to push the boundaries for the benefit of consumers.
“Our country is known as an incubator to generate new commercial ideas, and this latest initiative with Yahsat and du will ensure today’s travellers will enjoy the high-speed connectivity they already experience on the ground.”
“Get Connected” first wrote about Yahsat’s ambitions for inflight connectivity in November 2015.