Inmarsat announced that its long-awaited high-speed airborne data services will be available by the end of the year. The service, called Swift64, will allow passengers flying aboard satcom-equipped corporate aircraft to access the Internet and e-mail at 64 kbps, faster than most computer telephone modem connections. Swift64 is based on Inmarsat’s global-area network platform, said a spokesman.
Emirates Airline is on track by year-end to be the first carrier in the world to allow its passengers to make calls using their own mobile phones with the AeroMobile system. Earlier this year, AeroMobile, a joint venture between U.S.-based Arinc and Norway’s Telenor, completed a successful trial of the system with Australian carrier Qantas, and it is now ready for full revenue-service use.
The new TopFlight satellite data unit (SDU) from Thales is small, light and affordable enough to bring satellite communications to single-aisle and regional airliners.
Pentar’s newest airborne file server, the JetLAN AS200, combines PC hardware with avionics interface technology that provides what its developer calls as good a combination of performance, small size and low price as is available on the market. The $30,000 AS200 houses a pair of 50-gigabyte removable hard drives that are shock-mounted for use in turbulence.
Honeywell and Thales Avionics have taken the wraps off a new high-speed-data hardware package that enables the companies’ satcom systems to handle data at rates as high as 128 kbps. First installations of the HS-700/702 will enter service this summer, according to Ken Snodgrass, director of radio frequency communications systems for Honeywell’s business, regional and general aviation avionics division.
For any pilot who’s ever sat glued to the Weather Channel or logged onto a weather Web site to keep a watchful eye on a powerful cold front or line of thunderstorms sweeping across the country, the term airborne datalink could soon take on special significance.
Rockwell Collins is behind Honeywell and EMS Technologies in the race to bring high-speed data to the cockpit, but the company is still vying to make it a three-horse race. Collins announced it has successfully demonstrated its high-speed satcom datalink using the Inmarsat Swift64 service. Scheduled for availability in September, the HST-900 will allow passengers to surf the Web and send and receive e-mail at speeds of close to 64 kbps.
EMS Technologies announced last month that it has been selected by Honeywell and Thales Avionics to supply satcom components for the companies’ joint HS-720 high-speed-data satcom system. Under the terms of a seven-year agreement, EMS will develop custom avionics components for the Honeywell/Thales MCS-4000/7000 satcom systems.
Nobody knows for sure who first coined the term “office in the sky,” but whoever it was, he or she must feel a certain level of vindication that this over-promise of a marketing slogan has at last blossomed into something approaching reality.
In what is claimed to be a first, EMS Technologies last month said that an AMT-50 multi-channel satcom antenna and HSD-128 high-speed data terminal have been installed aboard a helicopter. TC Communications of Irvine, Calif., performed the installation in a Boeing 234 (civil Chinook) twin-rotor helicopter for the National Fire Administration of Taiwan used for disaster management and search-and-rescue missions.