Vista Global is the launch customer for LuxStream, a new high-speed satellite communications system developed by Collins Aerospace that runs on Ku-band satellites operated by SES. Collins will provide airborne hardware and its ArincDirect unit will be the service provider for the broadband network operated by SES. Vista Global’s VistaJet and XOJet fleets will carry LuxStream systems, with the first to be installed in VistaJet’s 36 Bombardier Globals.
While some satcom hardware manufacturers don’t provide the service to aircraft operators, Collins is making the systems, including the onboard router, and selling satellite airtime to operators. “It’s important for us to bring that total solution together,” said LeAnn Ridgeway, v-p and general manager of information management services for Collins Aerospace. “Think about how complex these systems are getting, into true high-speed broadband, and there is so much more you can do with that. It fits more in our sweet spot and the complexities of these aircraft.”
As the hardware manufacturer and service provider, Collins will be able to help customers set up their routers, move data on and off the airplane, and manage software applications that benefit from high-speed connectivity. “It’s important to have that complex integration and all those working together,” she said, adding that cybersecurity is an important component. “We have to do that all day long, and we feel like we’re the right people to ensure [operators] have proper cybersecurity.”
Network speeds on the SES systems will be up to 25 Mbps in the U.S. and 15 Mbps elsewhere, and passengers will be able to stream HD video and use multiple devices simultaneously. Coverage is global except for over polar regions.
The LuxStream hardware consists of an Astronics T-series tail-radome-mounted antenna, the Collins Cabin Router, and KuSAT-2000 satcom terminal. The terminal includes an antenna control and modem, block-up converter, and block-down converter. System weight, including antenna, is 48 pounds, plus three pounds for the router. The router will also provide access to ArincDirect applications that will help operators manage their LuxStream systems.
Collins Aerospace is targeting the aftermarket for LuxStream sales, primarily large-cabin jets such as Globals, Challengers, Falcons, and Gulfstreams. The company is continuing its relationship with Inmarsat and Honeywell to sell the JetConnex Ka-band satcom, according to Lupita Wilson, Collins's principal marketing manager for cabin systems.
SES operates more than 70 satellites in geostationary orbit and medium earth orbit. Its SES-15 Ku-band satellite became operational in January and covers the U.S., enabling the 25 Mbps service over the U.S.
The first supplemental type certificates, which will be developed by Collins dealers, will be for VistaJet Globals and also Gulfstream IVs and should be completed in the first quarter of 2020 when the LuxStream network goes live.
LuxStream’s “system list price is in line with all high-throughput satcom terminals in the market,” Wilson told AIN. Satcom airtime will be available on a flexible basis, but all customers will see the same network speeds. Customers will be able to purchase airtime per megabyte or for a fixed monthly rate. “Our pricing model was designed to provide operators options that best meet the aircraft’s mission, whether it is utilized daily, weekly, or monthly...without sacrificing speed,” she said.
“As first-generation satcom/cabin connectivity solutions are coming to their end of life, LuxStream has a very bright future,” said Ridgeway. “New high-throughput satellites are coming, and it’s time to switch out first-generation hardware and move to high-throughput. “Everybody is looking for a faster solution. We’ve got the right solution at the right time.”