EAN is winning the installation race

EAN offers the fastest installation time in the region, allowing aircraft to spend 80% less time on the ground than with satcom-only solutions. Here’s some insight into how we install Europe's fastest connectivity in just nine hours

The launch of EAN was quite a high profile event that the industry had awaited with some anticipation. Not only is the connectivity solution unique, because it was made for Europe by Europe, but it provides customers with a fast turnaround solution that avoids costly grounding of their aircraft.

Working with our initial launch customers, we were able to demonstrate the speed and efficiency that is possible with EAN installation. The entire process was honed down to just 9 hours, meaning an aircraft could be delivered in the morning and by sundown it was ready to be returned to the airline, fully installed with EAN connectivity and ready for testing. That's 80% faster than any other solution in the region.

And this is no unique scenario. The team has repeated the industry-record installation time again and again.

What does the process look like?

Firstly, there's design

The project team always starts the design process with an initial technical coordination meeting and then continues with a series of design reviews - a preliminary design review (PDR), followed by a critical design review.

These are key stages to enable engagement between the team and the customer, as technical content is outlined and the details of the end product are agreed. These reviews involve everything from defining exactly what will be installed on the aircraft, to what the Inmarsat team needs from the customer to enable the programme to run smoothly.

The designs are documented and the baseline design is agreed, so that the procurement process can go ahead.

Then there's logistics

Inevitably, the schedule is tight, because once a decision is made, an airline wants aircraft turned around as quickly as possible. It is therefore important to ensure planning is meticulous and communication lines remain open at all times.

Once a site for the installation has been selected, the engineering team plans to be onsite for the duration of the project, alongside support teams, field service reps, the installation certification manager and the programme manager.

Very precise logistical management ensures that the process runs smoothly with kits being delivered two weeks before any installation begins, to make sure the time the aircraft has on the ground is minimal.

Finally, installation begins

Once the installation programme starts in earnest, the team members ensure they have everything on location, including all the engineers toolings, electrical generators, air compressors and even the Inmarsat hangar test kit (which is used to test the aircraft once the installation is complete).

The operation can run seven days a week from first light until sundown, throughout the installation period, to ensure that delivery targets are met.

So, how is installation completed in just nine hours?

Such efficient installation requires an enormously skilled engineering team and open lines of communication between all parties at all times. Smooth running of the process requires daily conversations to resolve any problems encountered when designs are deviated from, and to ensure minimal impact on the programme and customer.

The engineering team breaks the work on the aircraft down into stages or areas and these are assigned to specific engineers. This allows engineers to work independently, without interfering with each other, in their groups, reducing the time required by a third.

When working with such speedy installations, it’s important to get resolutions to problems within a matter of hours instead of days. We do this by getting the right people on a call fast and resolving issues immediately.

What happens once installation is complete?

All aircraft leave live but need to be tested in live scenarios before connectivity can be offered to passengers. Inflight testing commences as soon as the customer is ready and testing happens quietly in the background, so passengers are completely unaware of it.

Once testing is complete, it's a matter of when the customer would like to go live and start promoting their new EAN service to passengers. As it's early days for EAN, some passengers have preferred a soft launch to make sure they are happy with the service, and crew members understand how to support it from a customer service perspective. However, post launch, not one customer has had any doubts because their passengers just love it.