“Get Connected” recently sent some questions to Kurt Weidemeyer, VP, Inmarsat Aviation, on his views on the inflight connectivity market and what 2019 holds in store for the telecommunications giant.
Here are his responses.
What can we expect to see from Inmarsat in 2019?
This year marks Inmarsat’s 40th anniversary, and it’s set to be a landmark year for the aviation business. This is a year of implementation, with lots of installations and service rollouts underway alongside the upcoming commercial launch of the much-anticipated European Aviation Network.
We will continue to grow and nurture our expanding partner ecosystem this year, having recently announced strategic collaborations with Panasonic and Honeywell alongside our existing relationships with GX partners Rockwell Collins, Thales, SITA OnAir and Zodiac.
At the same time, we’re always looking to the future. We are gearing up to launch our fifth GX satellite, GX-5, later this year, adding further capacity to our global network for years to come. We are also continuing to develop new hardware and software technologies and prepare for the next three scheduled satellite launches.
With so much to look forward to, 2019 will be a pivotal year for the business.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge(s) facing the avionics industry and/or Inmarsat in 2019?
Inmarsat’s biggest challenge in 2019 is execution. Everything is now in place with our networks, and there are no major challenges outside our control that we foresee right now.
Our focus this year rests in continuing the pace of installations, rolling out aircraft and activating service for the many contracts that we have been awarded – from Air New Zealand and Qatar Airways to Citilink, AirAsia and Avianca.
To do this, we need an avionics supply that continues to keep up with high demand.
What will be the biggest opportunity?
With GX Aviation now flying on several world-leading airlines – including Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Norwegian and Lufthansa – we have proven that there is a global high-speed connectivity solution that truly works in delivering a best-in-class experience for passengers.
High-speed, high-quality Wi-Fi in the air is now a reality which our existing customers are already enjoying, and which is visible for the airlines yet to adopt it. The biggest opportunity for us and our partners this year is bringing more of these airlines onboard the network as they become more aware of the positive impact enhanced connectivity is having on the industry.
The same will be true in Europe when our tailored solution, the European Aviation Network (EAN), is made available for passengers to use on commercial flights this year.
Customers will soon be able to experience the best inflight connectivity solution in Europe – an exciting prospect for short-haul airlines flying in the region.
In what field do you think the next big developments will occur?
We predict the next big developments will be in the field of operational connectivity. There has already been a lot of conversation around this and the opportunity is huge – last year, the London School of Economics predicted that the connected aircraft will deliver $15 billion in annual operational savings by 2035.
Now that more airlines are flying with connected fleets, we are likely to see more tangible action in this field in 2019.
We expect more exploration and commitment from airlines to begin using connectivity not only for passenger entertainment, but for enhancing operational efficiency and safety, and reducing emissions.