Inmarsat’s most powerful satellite enters service, boosting long-term inflight broadband capabilities for aviation customers

Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, is celebrating the commercial service introduction (CSI) of its newest and most advanced satellite to date. GX5 is now delivering unprecedented capacity to Europe and the Middle East as part of the industry-leading Global Xpress (GX) network, which powers the award-winning GX Aviation and Jet ConneX (JX) inflight Wi-Fi services.

GX5 satellite and earth
Inmarsat GX5 satellite

Conceived, designed and procured principally to meet the needs of airline and business aviation customers, GX5 delivers approximately twice the capacity of the entire existing GX satellite fleet (GX1-GX4) combined. Together with a significantly expanded ground station network and enhanced cloud-based processing, the powerful satellite is essential to support rapidly growing demand for aviation connectivity in Europe and the Middle East.

GX5 provides enhanced, industry-leading connectivity for airlines and business aviation customers operating in Europe and the Middle East
Seven more satellites will launch in next four years under Inmarsat’s fully-funded roadmap

GX5 will transform Inmarsat’s offering to aviation customers, bringing significant layered capacity and network redundancy over Europe and the Middle East, which form one of the world’s busiest travel corridors. Launched in November 2019, GX5 underpins the growth plans for Inmarsat’s aviation unit in the region, as part of the company’s wider commitment to drive innovation and support digital transformation within the airline and business aviation industries.

 

GX Aviation customers set to benefit from the regional capacity boost include leading airlines such as Qatar Airways, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Air France, SAS and Singapore Airlines, alongside more than 800 business jets enabled with JX.

 

Inmarsat’s Passenger Confidence Tracker recently revealed that the pandemic has further accelerated demand for inflight connectivity. According to the research, four in ten commercial airline passengers globally (39%) say onboard Wi-Fi is more important to them since the pandemic. The research also highlighted growing demand for connected services that reduce interaction and increase passenger autonomy, with inflight contactless payments, real time destination alerts and inflight immigration clearance cited amongst the most effective ways to boost passenger confidence in light of COVID-19.[1]

 

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX Aviation and Jet ConneX are firmly established as the world’s leading inflight connectivity solutions and we have now embarked on a major, fully-funded development programme to ensure they remain at the very forefront of this industry.

 

“We are delighted to take the next step in this ambitious roadmap with GX5’s entry into commercial service. This is our most powerful satellite to date, delivering more capacity over Europe and the Middle East than the four existing GX satellites combined.

In addition to transforming the quality of aviation connectivity today, it will ensure that our customers remain at the cutting-edge of technology innovation as their needs evolve and air traffic recovers in 2021 and beyond.”

GX1-10B-Launch-and-orbit_info

GX5’s entry into service underscores the strategic vision of Inmarsat as it looks past the COVID-19 pandemic to the future needs of commercial airline and business aviation customers, whose data-hungry passengers require reliable and seamless connectivity.

The satellite’s orbital position, at 11° East, provides an optimal position for European connectivity services and has been designed specifically for regional demand and air traffic patterns over Europe and the Middle East’s busiest airspaces.

 

GX5 is designed to provide connectivity services to existing GX terminals, whilst providing a step change in connectivity for next generation terminals being introduced in the near future.

 

Building upon its 40-year heritage in global mobile connectivity, GX5 is the 14th satellite currently in service with Inmarsat, and heralds the start of a major development programme to enhance the GX network’s capacity and capabilities.

Inmarsat’s technology roadmap will see seven further launches by 2024: five in geostationary orbit - adding speed, capacity and resilience - and two in highly elliptical orbit, which will enable the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service in the commercially and strategically critical Arctic region.

 

Global Xpress coverage map with the addition of GX5

When fully operational = Purple overlay for additional capacity for Europe and the Middle East):

Global Xpress coverage map with the addition of GX5

New ground stations for GX5

New ground stations for GX5 are at:

· Aussaguel, France: This is a new GX site, and Inmarsat’s first Ka-band antenna at this location.

· Burum, Netherlands: This will be the first Ka-band gateway hosted at Burum. It has been an Inmarsat site for many years.

· Cheia, Romania: A new site, Inmarsat’s first Ka-band antenna at this location.

· Fucino, Italy: This will be the second Inmarsat Ka-band gateway at the Fucino site.

· Kofinou, Cyprus: This is a new site for Inmarsat.

· Nemea, Greece: This is the third Inmarsat gateway in Nemea.

 

Inmarsat’s ground network expansion

Inmarsat’s ground network is expanding from 21 in 2019 to 30 by 2021:

Inmarsat ground network

 

[1] 83% of passengers say the introduction of contactless payments would boost confidence; 79% would like to see destination alerts, 78% pre-immigration clearance.

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