Inmarsat Redefines the Future of Aviation Connectivity
Last year, chapter one of Inmarsat’s ‘Sky High Economics’ report, in partnership with the London School of Economics, revealed that inflight broadband has the potential to create a $130 billion global market within the next 20 years, resulting in $30 billion of additional revenue for airlines by 2035. The report predicts that broadband enabled ancillary revenues for airlines will come from four main revenue streams: broadband access charges, e-commerce and destination shopping, advertising, and premium content. “The investments we are making to expand and futureproof the capacity of satellite network make us the ideal partner for airlines looking to capitalise on these broadband enabled revenue streams, says Frederik van Essen, SVP, Market and Business Development, Inmarsat Aviation, in an interview with Aeromag. Agenda-setting, industry-disrupting and standard-raising – Inmarsat represents the past, present and future of aviation connectivity.
1. Recently, Inmarsat and the London School of Economics found that connected aircraft has several financial and environmental advantages. Could you talk more about Connected Aircraft and its future?
Over the next decade, the aviation industry is set to be transformed as the connected aircraft become a reality for passengers and airlines alike. Based on first-of-its-kind research conducted by Inmarsat and the London School of Economics, the connected aircraft has the potential to save airlines $15 billion a year in operational efficiencies, and to cut CO2 emissions by 21.3 million tonnes annually, by 2035. These efficiencies include fuel savings, a reduction in flight delays, safety improvements and innovations in maintenance.
For passengers, inflight connectivity transforms their inflight experience. For airlines, real time data drives decision-making, improves operational efficiency and assures the highest levels of safety in the skies, in addition to the economic benefits that passenger connectivity creates.
For example, weather is responsible for 70% of all flight delays and contributes to 23% of aviation accidents. Inflight weather updates from apps, allow pilots to avoid areas of bad weather, particularly important for airlines operating in airspace which frequently deal with extreme and complex weather events. Airlines will also be able to use telemedicine capabilities to reduce preventable flight diversions and broadband to the cockpit will enable services such as “Black Box in the Cloud”, with the potential to solve issues in real-time by streaming aircraft data to the ground and enhancing safety.
2. Inmarsat has more than 25 years’ experience in aviation connectivity. Could you share the details of Inmarsat’s latest initiatives in commercial aviation?
Inmarsat is pioneering an exciting step-change in global connectivity that will transform capabilities within the aviation industry, both in the cockpit and in the cabin. GX Aviation, for example, is the world’s first inflight broadband solution with seamless, reliable high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator, allowing passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, just like they do on the ground. GX Aviation is commercially available with launch customer Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Singapore Airlines and Air Astana with raft of other airlines are set to follow, including the AirAsia Group and Citilink.
Scheduled to be flying live over Europe soon, our European Aviation Network (EAN) is the world’s first integrated S-band satellite and complementary LTE-based terrestrial network across Europe that will bring unprecedented passenger connectivity to the aviation industry with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. Last year, EAN was declared winner in the ‘Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation’ at the APEX Awards and was also named as a finalist in this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards at AIX. The industry has responded extremely well to both GX Aviation and EAN, with more than 1,300 commercial aircraft expected to be installed the two services under signed contracts.
In the cockpit, this year Inmarsat entered commercial service with SB-S, the world’s first and only global, high-speed, secure connectivity solution for the flight deck. Building on the capabilities of earlier cockpit satcom technologies, it combines cutting-edge satellite technology with next-generation, secure IP broadband connectivity to deliver incomparable protected data capacity to the cockpit. SB-S provides game-changing visibility for airlines, resulting in vastly improved operational efficiencies and enhanced safety.
3. Inmarsat is one of the most widely-used satcom operators in the business aviation sector. Could you shed some light on your comprehensive connectivity services?
Jet ConneX is the only global, high-speed inflight Wi-Fi option available for business jets today. It offers the same fast and reliable connectivity in the air that has previously only been available on the ground. Using our advanced Ka-band satellite network, Jet ConneX offers data plans up to 15Mbps and consistent global coverage across all major airline routes and every island in between. That’s why all four major business jet OEMs (Gulfstream, Bombardier, Dassault, and Embraer) have selected Jet ConneX as a preferred line-fit option. Not only is this a huge endorsement but it reinforces our status as the number one provider to business aviation customers worldwide. To date over 275 aircraft are flying live with Jet ConneX and demand from customers continues to be incredibly strong.
4. What is the future roadmap for Inmarsat Aviation? Could you share with us the priorities and targets for the years ahead?
Last year, our third annual Inflight Connectivity Survey found that two-thirds of passengers in the Asia-Pacific region (67%) now consider inflight Wi-Fi a necessity, with passengers expecting the same levels of connectivity in the air as they receive on the ground.
As demand grows, so will our capacity. With confirmed investment in future satellite launches, including three further satellites with Ka-band payloads planned from 2019, we can expand capacity where and when it is needed. Our fifth GX satellite will be launched in 2019 by Arianespace. We have also awarded the contract for the building of the first two sixth generations satellites to Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus). The first of which is scheduled for launch in 2020 using Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) H-IIA launch vehicle.
Last year, chapter one of our ‘Sky High Economics’ report, in partnership with the London School of Economics, revealed that inflight broadband has the potential to create a $130 billion global market within the next 20 years, resulting in $30 billion of additional revenue for airlines by 2035. The report predicts that broadband enabled ancillary revenues for airlines will come from four main revenue streams: broadband access charges, e-commerce and destination shopping, advertising, and premium content. With this in mind, the investments we are making to expand and futureproof the capacity of satellite network make us the ideal partner for airlines looking to capitalise on these broadband enabled revenue streams.