Everything you need to know about the European Aviation Network

The European Aviation Network is on track for passenger service in 2018. So here’s everything you need to know about Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom’s ground-breaking aviation connectivity solution ahead of the big day.


A world-first built for aviation

EAN is the world’s first integrated aviation connectivity solution that combines high-capacity satellite coverage with a complementary 4G LTE ground network. Built exclusively for Europe’s busy skies, it delivers consistent, reliable, high-speed broadband coverage to aircraft cruising above any of the EU’s 28 member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland.

Built by a powerful collaboration of leading European communication innovators – including Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom – this is a giant leap forward for aviation connectivity. With a billion passengers flying across Europe each year – and that figure predicted to grow to 1.5 billion by 2035 – demand for inflight broadband is set to soar. EAN will equip the industry with a service that satisfies that demand.

Digital transformation in the air

What does this mean for European airlines? With better connectivity comes new, exciting possibilities – and an edge over the rest of the world.

It unlocks a vast array of additional ancillary revenue opportunities – from highly personalised passenger e-commerce to IFC retail models like timed, tiered or sponsored

It means better passenger experience, too. EAN’s high-speed broadband gives passengers the freedom to use high-bandwidth applications from messaging and social media platforms to video streaming and VPN access.

As a result, high-speed connectivity may also mean increased passenger loyalty. Inmarsat Aviation’s 2017 global passenger survey, the largest of its kind, found that 44% of connected passengers would stop flying with their preferred airline if it offered poor (or no) inflight Wi-Fi. EAN enables airlines to meet passenger demand for true inflight broadband – with consistently reliable Wi-Fi that's as good in the air as we are used to on the ground. In 2018 we found that 54% of passengers would prefer no Wi-Fi to poor quality connections.

What puts EAN on top?

EAN is easy and low cost to install, whilst the hardware required has no moving parts – making it robust and straightforward to maintain. The system is small and ultra-lightweight, with low-drag antennas – in total the entire EAN system weighs only around 60kg, making it the most fuel efficient, low maintenance and easiest to install IFC system in Europe and, for that matter, the world.

Crucially, EAN is also uniquely flexible and scalable to meet growing demand. Available bandwidth can be multiplied rapidly by the densification and sectorisation of LTE towers on the ground. With passenger numbers expected to soar over the next 20 years, EAN ensures Europe won’t be left behind by the pace of change, instead remaining at the forefront of aviation connectivity.

Helping the industry fly

In the face of international competition, EAN will help to create a commercial advantage for the European aviation industry over the rest of the world. It’s predicted that EAN will generate huge value – around €2bn – for the aviation industry in Europe. It will create more than 500 highly skilled jobs and these new roles will generate incremental tax revenues of around €440m.

When will EAN be ready for take-off?

Following the successful launch of our EAN satellite in summer 2017, near completion of the ground network and with regulatory approval across the vast majority of participating nations already achieved, EAN is on target to enter passenger service in 2018.