Inmarsat, Honeywell Partner With Ka-Band

 - May 3, 2013, 2:42 AM

Mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat and Honeywell offered a preview of avionics designed to support Inmarsat’s “game-changing” GX Aviation service at AIX in Hamburg, where the components were on display for the first time.

As Inmarsat prepares to launch the first Global Xpress Ka-band satellite later this year, Honeywell engineers have completed the preliminary design review of satcom hardware that will be installed in aircraft. The review covered the satcom terminals and antenna subsystems that Honeywell will manufacture for commercial and business aircraft. This included “external interface control documents and fuselage- and tail-mount antenna specifications,” according to Honeywell.

Global Xpress is Inmarsat’s newest satellite network, consisting of three Ka-band satellites. The first is expected to launch by year-end, with global service available in 2015.

Following the preliminary design review, which demonstrated that the design met Inmarsat’s system requirements, Honeywell engineers have embarked on detail design and plan to achieve critical design review (freezing of the final design) later this year.

“Launching Global Xpress is a key part of our strategic objectives,” said Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce, speaking in February at the Satcom Direct conference. “It’s a $1.2 billion investment in a completely new global satellite fleet. It [offers] revolutionary capability delivering very high data speeds to fast-moving aircraft, [up to] 50 Mbps for commercial Ka-band and essentially more than that for military Ka-band.” Current Ku-band satcom speeds offer 128 to 256 Kbps, and Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband clocks along at 432 Kbps, or in the 700-Kbps range with certain enhancements such as the aggregation service offered by service provider Satcom1.

Global Xpress opens new markets for Inmarsat, according to Pearce, with “dramatic speed and capacity increases for our expansion needs. And it diversifies our global aviation business by taking us into a new commercial market, which is next-generation air transport passenger connectivity services where we see an evolving bring-your-own-device market and the need to deliver streamed video and proper browsing services to the cabin. We see that market as the tipping point, and we see Global Xpress delivering for the first time the economics to close the business case for that market.”

According to Jack Jacobs, v-p of marketing at Honeywell Safety and Information Systems, “In addition to the successful preliminary design review, we are actively working with several aircraft OEMs to provide GX Aviation services, giving crew and passengers access to higher performing in-flight connectivity around the world for less.”

Service providers Satcom Direct, Arinc and OnAir have said they will provide Global Xpress services for their satellite communications customers.

Inmarsat v-p of aerospace Miranda Mills said at AIX, “With our fleet of three satellites under construction by Boeing, and the first scheduled launch this year, avionics represent the final segment that turns Global Xpress from a concept into a reality.”



The portrayal of current Ku-band satcom capabilties providing 128 to 256 kbps for Aeronautical services substantially understates current capabilities. Intelsat today provides 6 / 1 Mbps links for Aeronautical solutions on a global basis and our next generation spacecraft will support orders of magnitude more throughput using Ku-band for aero services.