Going global

How the GX Aviation Tour showcased aviation’s connected future

It reads like a famously hedonistic Rolling Stones tour from the early 1970s: 10 cities visited across four continents and 80,128km travelled. Rest assured, however, Inmarsat Aviation’s 38-day global trek during summer 2016 was anything but retro.

The GX Aviation Tour was, in fact, a showcase of the future of connected flying. Together with onboard hardware partner Honeywell, our aviation team took to the skies in Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft. This saw them successfully complete system integration in preparation for the launch of GX Aviation, the world’s first truly global high-speed broadband service from a single provider.

As the flying test lab made its way across the world’s busy skies, GX Aviation was put through a series of trials in real-time that allowed our team to fine-tune this game-changing breakthrough in aviation connectivity.

What is GX Aviation?

The GX Aviation service provides passengers in the sky with the same fast and reliable connection that they expect on the ground. The result of a proprietary network of satellites, it’s engineered to meet the specific needs of the aviation industry.

The culmination of five years planning and billions of dollars spent in research and development, GX Aviation and the subsequent summer 2016 tour was, for Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation’s business unit, a momentous occasion.

 “It was highly gratifying on many levels,” he says. “And I’m happy to report that the tour confirmed everything we promised — we are now ready to deliver a reliable, consistent, high-speed and transformational Wi-Fi experience to airlines and their passengers.”

It has always been a matter of when, not if, all airlines have Wi-Fi — it’s to be expected now – Greg Francois, Honeywell Aerospace

Access the cloud, in the clouds

To put that claim to the test, we invited a host of senior executives from the world’s foremost airlines to experience GX Aviation in action.

Our VIP passengers boarded in a number of cities — from Chicago to Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Dubai and Sydney — and were taken to cruising altitudes above 10,000 feet. They were then invited to put GX Aviation through its paces. They could stream videos, email colleagues, browse their favourite websites and check social media. Unsurprisingly, the most popular activity was video calling their friends and family across the globe.

Mondale is delighted. “The reviews were uniformly positive,” he says. “And everyone seems in agreement that this is a game-changer for the industry.”

Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat‘s Chief Marketing Officer is equally pleased. “To finally be receiving emails, looking at my FaceTime, to be able to connect up to family… and do all that above the clouds is just incredible,” he says.

So with GX Aviation passing its final industry expert test, the system is ready to launch commercially. As Greg Francois, ATR Avionics Technical Sales Manager at Honeywell Aerospace, remarks: “It has always been a matter of when, not if, all airlines have Wi-Fi — it’s to be expected now.”

GX Aviation is now a reality. It’s only revolutionary aviation technology, but we like it. Bring It On.