AIX: Rockwell Collins gaining useful experience with GX Aviation

Richard Nordstrom, Director, Global Air Transport Cabin Systems Marketing, Rockwell Collins.
Richard Nordstrom, Director, Global Air Transport Cabin Systems Marketing, Rockwell Collins.

Rockwell Collins is using the experience gained through its Inmarsat GX Aviation installs with Air Astana to help with future applications.

Air Astana now has Inmarsat’s Ka-band GX Aviation inflight connectivity live on three Boeing 767s. The Boeing 767 is operated on domestic trunk routes and high-density, long-haul routes out of Almaty and Astana.

Depending on their individual needs, Air Astana passengers are able to choose from three connectivity packages: The Light option covers up to 15 Mb, the Business option up to 50 Mb, and the Super option can cover 100 Mb.

All services are estimated to operate at an average speed of two to five Mbps.

Richard Nordstrom, Director, Global Air Transport Cabin Systems Marketing, Rockwell Collins, said: “We now have five aircraft in total flying with GX with about another 65 going though line- and retro-fit installs for another airline.”

“Get Connected” reported in September 2017 that this may be SpiceJet, a low-cost airline headquartered in Gurugram, India.

“So we now have around 12-month’s experience of provisioning and pre-provisioning aircraft with Inmarsat GX. The early ones were a good way to learn.

“Inmarsat GX is performing incredibly well, just the way it was designed. We have the ability to monitor that in real-time with our dashboard system and save the data for later analysis,” he said.

The Rockwell Collins dash board shows connectivity usage, speeds, revenue generation and much more.

“It is useful as we know exactly what is happening geographically and can start adding relevant weather information to aircraft too. There are lot of things we can do to optimise the service, once we have the data as to how it is performing,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom said Rockwell Collins is also developing a live TV platform.

“It is a platform-agnostic IP streaming product so will easily run on GX,” he said.

“The key is being able to take large 1080p and other HD videos and be able to compress them into really tiny files for transmission to the aircraft. We then expand them, while still retaining the quality – it’s working beautifully, and we are very pleased.”

Nordstrom said Rockwell Collins is in the process of the productising the system over the next nine months.

“We are also really starting to focus more on the inflight connectivity value-adds for airlines,” he said.

“But if you have a lot of value-added video content, on the aircraft how do you manage it? To get around 30-day updates we are looking at our 4G and LTE capabilities for uploads after using sophisticated algorithms to compress the content.”

Rockwell Collins is also gearing up for the official launch of Inmarsat SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) next week at the IATA Safety and Flight Ops Conference in Montreal, having been involved in the early Hawaiian Airlines trial through its ARINC GLOBALink data-link services.

SB-S enables secure satellite-based ACARS data, which can be fed into the legacy data networks.

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