Inmarsat's new ‘smart pipe’ delivers complete connected aircraft for Boeing 777X

Latest innovation independently allocates inflight connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications, enhancing airline operations and passenger experience.

Discussions around the promise of digital aircraft transformation have been taking place for a number of years now and thanks to an exciting new innovation by Inmarsat and Boeing, the aviation industry recently took an important step forward.

The two aviation powerhouses have joined forces to develop ground-breaking ‘smart pipe’ technology for Boeing’s new 777X aircraft. This new technology provides fast and secure inflight connectivity, from the cockpit to the cabin, allowing airlines to use multiple third-party applications at the same time.

“The new infrastructure has been designed to independently allocate connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications,” explains Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation. “This enables airlines to unlock important operational benefits such as predictive maintenance, route optimisation, modernised air traffic management and real-time crew communications, while also offering enhanced passenger entertainment, including high-speed internet and live television.”

This ‘smart pipe’ functionality means that applications delivered on two of Inmarsat’s award-winning satcom solutions - GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) - are each able to have a unique service level agreement and guaranteed performance levels, independent of other applications that are also operating through the same terminal.

777X Taxi Test

“Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SB-S are already established as the aviation industry’s most advanced global connectivity solutions. Now, with the addition of ‘smart pipe’ functionality, we are paving the way for a more connected and integrated future, which is crucial for airlines around the world that are transforming their business with the power of digital technology,” adds Balaam.

“This is a significant milestone in developing the truly connected aircraft and reinforces Inmarsat’s key role in serving the aviation industry with a suite of operational and passenger connectivity services. The results from initial tests for our ‘smart pipe’ are promising and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Boeing in preparation for the forthcoming entry into service of its new 777X aircraft.”

Inmarsat’s new 'smart pipe’ technology will initially be available to airlines that have either ordered or plan to order the Boeing 777X. In addition, these capabilities will be available as upgrades on other aircraft models.

As outlined by the London School of Economics (LSE) in its Sky High Economics report, the connected aircraft will save the aviation industry $15 billion annually by 2035, and this combined development between Inmarsat and Boeing is a significant stepping stone towards this goal. Inmarsat, as the only operator of fully-owned and managed networks providing global high-speed broadband to both cabin and cockpit, is in a unique position to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and airlines deliver the best solution to access that complete potential value.