INMARSAT AND HUGHES BRING UNRIVALED INFLIGHT CONNECTIVITY TO NORTH AMERICAN AIRLINES AND PASSENGERS

GX+ North America will seamlessly combine the Hughes JUPITER satellite fleet, which has the largest Ka-band satellite capacity over the US, with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress, the widest, most resilient global network, to offer faster, more reliable inflight Wi-Fi.

Inmarsat, a world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, and Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, unveiled a major strategic collaboration that marks an important new step change for North American commercial airlines and their passengers.

The companies have joined forces to launch a transformational aviation connectivity solution, which has been specifically designed for North American commercial airlines and is available today. GX+ North America seamlessly integrates the unrivaled capacity of the Hughes JUPITER™ High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) constellation across North America with the extensive worldwide coverage and resilience of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) HTS satellite network, bringing a unique combination of unprecedented capacity, speed and reliability to the region, unavailable from any other satellite provider.

The ground-breaking new solution underscores the strategic vision of Inmarsat and Hughes as they look past the pandemic and into the future needs of commercial airline fleets in North America, whose passengers will require ubiquitous connectivity as they return to the skies.

The ultra-high capacity of GX+ North America will, for the first time, make it possible for North American airlines to meet increasing passenger demand, including the surge in traffic expected from free-of-charge inflight Wi-Fi. Today, satellite networks are trying to serve thousands of commercial aircraft in the world’s busiest airspace, and as they reach capacity, airlines will struggle to meet the demands of data-hungry passengers who want reliable, affordable, high-speed Wi-Fi while on board.

For too long, North American airline passengers have had to settle for constrained bandwidth activities such as email and limited messaging while on board flights. GX+ North America will give passengers the freedom to stream videos and audio, shop online, check and update social media, and catch up on work, all while in the air.

The superior capabilities of GX+ North America mean that North American airlines no longer need to compromise on speed, reliability, availability or coverage for inflight broadband, even when flying at full capacity over the busiest airport hubs. This also offers full flexibility for route planning, even on short notice, as the solution can cover any route worldwide through the GX global network — whether to Hawaii, Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, across the Gulf of Mexico, to Central and South America, across the Atlantic or even to the most extreme northern latitudes.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “GX has firmly established itself as the reference inflight connectivity solution for today’s demanding passengers and is used by airlines worldwide. We are very confident that this game-changing collaboration with Hughes, combining their market-leading depth of capacity with Inmarsat’s award-winning passenger connectivity solution, delivers for the first time, inflight broadband that is consistently superior regardless of the number of passengers using the service or where they are traveling. It is truly a ‘no compromise’ solution for airlines that no other service provider can offer. We’ve also ensured the transition path for airlines upgrading from other connectivity providers is simple, quick and cost efficient.”

“This strategic collaboration is further evidence of Inmarsat’s strength, resilience and innovation despite these unprecedented times in our industry. As a number of connectivity providers in North America face financial challenges and airlines are forced to reconsider their choice of supplier, Inmarsat’s offer continues to go from strength to strength.”

Paul Gaske, Executive Vice President and General Manager, North America division at Hughes, said: “We are proud to partner with Inmarsat to launch GX+ North America. This unique strategic collaboration leverages the full power of the JUPITER System, including the depth of capacity of our Ka-band High-Throughput Satellite fleet, as well as our JUPITER gateways and modems. Combining the Hughes JUPITER System and Inmarsat’s leading inflight connectivity solution, GX+ North America marks a new era for inflight connectivity.”

The new solution will be provided and managed end-to-end by Inmarsat. Prototype flights are expected to start later this year with commercial availability scheduled for 2021.

GX+ North America utilizes a robust Ka-band flat panel antenna from Thinkom, with millions of flight hours behind it, together with smart dual aero modem technology powered by Inmarsat’s aviation solutions that intelligently chooses the optimal satellite path with no service interruption or delay for passengers.

Looking forward, as commercial aviation returns to growth and aircraft return to the skies, Inmarsat and Hughes will continue to anticipate and respond to the North American market’s evolving needs. Expanding the service over the next four years alone, the Hughes and Inmarsat combined constellation of seven GX and JUPITER satellites will more than double to a total of 15 spacecraft. These additional satellites include the Hughes ultra-high capacity JUPITER 3 satellite and Inmarsat’s seven advanced, fully-funded next generation GX satellite payloads (6A, 6B, 7, 8, 9, 10A & 10B), which will enhance capacity and coverage throughout the world, including the Arctic.

Be sure to check out this infographic.



FLIGHTPATH3D

FlightPath3D Now Comes With More Places Than You Can Imagine

FlightPath3D announces that Flying Over Places is now included as a new view in all 3D map products. A retrofit is available for all existing 3D map installs.

FlightPath3D President Duncan Jackson said, “Flying Over Places significantly expands our map feature set with the integration of over 50,000 points of interest (POIs) that auto-play as the flight progresses, providing historical information about landmarks, attractions, and places as they’re flown over en route.”

Jackson adds, “We want every airline to be able to inform their customer what they can see out the window, with each point displaying its distance and direction.”

“This, and our many other map features, help provide an innovative and consistent passenger experience across multiple aircraft types and IFE systems. So you can continue to elevate your brand and differentiate your inflight service”, says FlightPath3D CEO Boris Veksler.

Veksler continues, “We design and deploy apps that are available as an Android, iOS or Linux app, can be streamed as a web service or API, and as widgets that can be embedded in other applications.”

To conclude, Veksler says, “We have the largest team of map specialists and geospatial engineers in the industry, building software selected by all the leading IFE vendors, and we’ll continue to lead, innovate and elevate the passenger experience.”

NOTE: Video of Flying Over Places for embed/viewing here.


SMARTSKY

SmartSky Networks announced that mobile broadband communications technology executive David Helfgott has been named CEO, reflecting the company’s upcoming transition from the development and deployment stage to an operational aviation broadband communications services and products company.

“On behalf of both the SmartSky board and management, I am delighted to welcome David to our team, reflecting our longstanding company plan. His extensive technology and mobile communications experience will help us ensure that all of our operations reflect the high level of quality set by our transformational connectivity technology,” said Haynes Griffin, outgoing CEO who will remain as Executive Chairman.

“I am honored to be selected to lead SmartSky at this exciting inflection point,” said SmartSky CEO Helfgott. “When you look at SmartSky’s unique positioning and expansive patent portfolio, it highlights the company’s incredible potential and culture of sustained innovation. Since COVID-19 first began to impact the inflight communications industry, SmartSky has proven its resilience in many ways, having added more than 40 patents since January 2020, successfully defended its IP from a challenge brought by an industry incumbent, closed on funding of more than $50 million in additional equity and debt, and overhauled its radio technology supply chain on the way to completing the deployment and launch of its network next year.”

Helfgott most recently was President & CEO of phased-array antenna developer Phasor, which was recently acquired by Hanwha Systems. Prior to this, he held several senior executive roles including President & CEO of Inmarsat Government; President of Tactical Wireless Communications for Cobham; President & CEO of Datapath and President & CEO of SES Government.

Haynes Griffin, who has been SmartSky’s Chairman and CEO since 2013, also was the founding CEO of Vanguard Cellular and a past Chairman of CTIA, a major wireless industry trade association.

SmartSky is reinventing connectivity, building a next-generation inflight WiFi network from the ground up. The company also is developing pioneering aviation data products to improve safety and efficiency while providing the industry with novel ancillary revenue sources. SmartSky’s unique single-beam-per-aircraft inflight WiFi approach is backed by 190 patents and over 1,000 hours of flight testing.


INMARSAT

Inmarsat announced that it will provide engineering support, communications services and equipment to Cranfield University’s Digital Aviation Research and Technology Center (DARTeC) consortium, supported by Honeywell Aerospace.

Set to open at Cranfield University during the first quarter of 2021, DARTeC will spearhead UK research into digital aviation technology. The center will address the most pressing research challenges facing the aviation industry, including the integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into civilian airspace, increasing the efficiency and reliability of airports and aircraft through technology, and creating a safe and secure shared airspace.

Inmarsat and Honeywell Aerospace will support the Center’s research by providing Aspire 400 satellite communications terminals, airtime and engineering expertise in the Saab 340B flying test-bed and test lab for evaluation and development of future applications and solutions. The Saab 340B will effectively serve as a ‘flying laboratory’ to evaluate multiple advanced radar systems and airborne digital communications.

John Broughton, Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, Inmarsat Aviation said: “Advances in digital aviation are driving innovation opportunities in all aspects of the airline industry. Today’s commitment with Honeywell Aerospace to support DARTeC highlights the importance of creating a collaborative research environment in the aviation industry. We are looking forward to working closely with other members of the DARTeC community to reap the rewards of a digital aviation industry for many years to come.”

Mark Goodman, Director of Product Management, Honeywell Aerospace said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Inmarsat to support the DARTeC consortium and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to the aviation industry. There is no time to waste in responding to the opportunities of digital transformation and ensuring that the industry is ready to serve the needs of our airlines today and tomorrow.”

Through the DARTeC consortium, members are able to create, develop and test next generation air traffic control (ATC) applications for manned and unmanned aviation that will utilize digital voice and data. Members will also have access to Inmarsat’s Iris program fully serviced aircraft for testing, evaluation and demonstrations as well as conducting live Iris test flights with specific air navigation service providers (ANSPs).


BOEING

The European Union has been authorized by the WTO to impose $3.99b in annual tariffs on US imported goods. This includes Boeing aircraft and has done so as a result of illegal subsidies to the company.


STELLAR

Stellar boarding music boosts Virgin Australia Brand. Passengers traveling on Virgin Australia and VARA (Virgin Australia Regional Airlines) will now hear customized boarding music as of September 2020, a first for the airline group. The original piece was written in-house at Stellar Entertainment and replaces the commercially available music playlists previously played onboard the airline for years.

Stellar Entertainment’s Creative Director, Brad Power, describes the composition:

“Our latest piece draws on deep house and Balearic beats to create a fresh, vibrant and modern sound that is upbeat without being too exuberant. Perfect for a contemporary airline looking to do something a little different.”

Bespoke boarding music offers airlines an opportunity to create their own unique brand identity and sound, one that passengers can always relate to their experience onboard that airline. This area of expertise is just one of many offerings from Stellar’s fully equipped, multi-studio facilities specializing in various audio solutions and services, such as original music composition and sound design.

Director of Licensing at Stellar, Sam Allen remarks, “A bespoke piece doesn’t stop at boarding music. It can be implemented across the airline via other platforms and applications such as advertising campaigns and promotional buzz reels, to optimize usage as part of an over-arching sonic strategy.”

Besides rolling out this new signature music across the fleet for boarding and disembarking, Virgin Australia and VARA have also implemented it as on-hold music for their phone lines. Working directly with Stellar Entertainment has given the airline group the ability to license the music as needed, allowing for greater flexibility in how and where they use the new sound. This also includes a financial benefit, with a direct license with Stellar saving the airline group royalty fees paid to local collection agencies.

This is the second composition from Stellar Entertainment to be used by an airline, following the bespoke piece used by Malaysia Airlines earlier this year.

To hear the new boarding music for Virgin Australia and VARA, click here.

To listen to a broader range of audio samples from our in-house composition team, click here.


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