Get connected

Want to run the GX Aviation broadband service on your aircraft? Here’s how

The demand for Wi-Fi and reliable Internet services continues to grow. Passengers today want to surf the internet, check emails, stream music and videos and shop online – without any drop-offs during their flight. Until recently, Wi-Fi on planes has been patchy and slow. With GX Aviation, though, we can wave goodbye to the bad old days of buffering.

Global solution

GX Aviation is Inmarsat’s market-leading high-speed broadband service for commercial aircraft. Through Inmarsat’s wholly-owned Global Xpress satellite network, GX Aviation uses Ka-band bandwidth and spot-beam technology to give aircraft the Internet speed and reliability that passengers are used to having at home or in the office.

The Global Xpress satellite network comprises four launched satellites that cover the globe, and eight further payloads (GX5, GX6A, GX6B, GX7, GX8, GX9, GX10A and 10B) will all deliver further Ka-band bandwidth, providing additional Global Xpress capacity in regions of highest demand to ensure even better coverage and reliability.

So now that there is a true global network of high-speed connectivity available, what do aircraft need to connect to this?

Honeywell JetWave antenna

The equipment

Inmarsat has partnered with Honeywell for its connectivity equipment needs. Here’s how that kit helps to create a seamless inflight broadband experience.

  • The beams are received by Honeywell’s JetWave antenna, mounted on the exterior of the aircraft and protected by a streamlined radome  
  • The innovative antenna is designed to deliver a high throughput of data and can be positioned for optimal signal uptake
  • Alongside the antenna, the KRFU Ka-band frequency unit controls and converts the throughput on the antenna, and is a high-power amplifier for transmitting
  • The KANDU provides power and positioning control to antenna, and interfaces with the KRFU – it also takes the data through from the antenna to the modem manager
  • The MODMAN modem manager is the overall controller of the system – it controls the KRFU and through it the antenna, and provides user interfaces and built-in tests for the whole system
  • The Aircraft Personality Module plugs into the MODMAN and stores airframe and customer specific information for the terminal equipment, such as user operational preferences
  • The MODMAN contains the iDirect Modem which feeds through to the routers providing Wi-Fi signal to passengers in the cabin

In addition, the equipment is lightweight – to minimise fuel burn – and robust, which maximises time between maintenance. And just like Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network, Honeywell’s antenna and connectivity hardware is continually being optimised, to ensure airlines can face the future with confidence.

Ka-band antenna

No drop-offs: only reliable connectivity

Thanks to its dual receivers, JetWave enables critical ‘make before break’ handoffs between satellite beams. This is unique. Other solutions have built-in outages every time a terminal needs to be ‘handed off’ between satellites, adding significant service interruption and downtime for users.

Supplemental Type Certificates

Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) already exist for aircraft from all of the leading manufacturers, and additional STCs are on course to be achieved, including:

  • Airbus: A319, A320, A321, A330, A340, A350, A380
  • Boeing: B737, B747, B747-8I, B757, B767, B777, B787

The equipment is also certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for safety, environmental and installation standards. The receivers can be installed with standard tools and minimal labour and much less downtime than other terminals. It takes days, not weeks, to get fully connected.