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Advanced satcom technologies revolutionize aviation and marine industries
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Advanced satcom technologies revolutionize aviation and marine industries
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) May 29, 2024

The aviation and marine industries are currently undergoing a significant transformation, thanks to advancements in satellite and communication technologies. Companies such as Intelsat, SES, MDA Space, Hughes Network Systems, Orbit Communications Systems, Collins Aerospace, and Gogo Business Aviation are pioneering these innovations, enhancing connectivity and operational capabilities. These developments are not just incremental improvements but represent a fundamental shift in how data is processed, shared, and utilized in these sectors.

Intelsat and Japan Airlines: Pioneering Multi-Orbit Inflight Connectivity

Intelsat, the operator of the world's largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, has been selected by Japan Airlines (JAL) to provide multi-orbit inflight connectivity on more than 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This partnership positions JAL as one of the first airlines in the Asia-Pacific region to offer reliable, multi-orbit connectivity using Intelsat's electronically steered array (ESA) antenna. The ESA antenna, which interoperates with both geostationary and low earth orbit satellites, ensures wide coverage and low latency, providing passengers with a connectivity experience comparable to their home internet.

JAL's Deputy SVP, Customer Experience Division, Junko Sakihara, expressed pride in this achievement, stating, "We are proud to have been among the first airlines in the world to offer free service for all passengers flying on our domestic routes starting in 2017 and look forward to the greater speed and reliability benefits the new multi-orbit service will bring to our customers." The first aircraft with this new inflight service is expected to be delivered in 2026, marking a significant milestone in JAL's ongoing efforts to enhance passenger connectivity.

Resorts World Cruises and SES: Elevating the Maritime Experience

In the marine sector, Resorts World Cruises has entered into an agreement with SES to install a fully integrated Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) service on its flagship Genting Dream, with future plans for the Resorts World One cruise ship. This integration aims to provide reliable high-speed connectivity, enhancing the guest experience with personalized digital services.

Michael Goh, President of Resorts World Cruises, emphasized the importance of this technological advancement, stating, "We are constantly striving to enhance our onboard guests' experiences with best-in-class hospitality and services, complemented by the latest innovations and technology offerings." Simon Maher, Global Head of Maritime Cruise at SES, further noted, "Reliable high-speed connectivity is an essential enabler for Resorts World Cruises' ambition of redefining cruising, with world-class luxury accommodation, exclusive restaurants, spas, and other facilities, as well as personalized tailored experiences for their guests."

MDA Space: Transforming Maritime Defence

MDA Space has introduced a new vessel detection onboard processing system (VDOP) as part of its MDA CHORUS suite. This system promises to revolutionize geointelligence dissemination at sea by providing rapid access to critical data for maritime defense and security missions. The VDOP processes satellite radar data onboard the satellite, delivering real-time geointelligence data directly to users at sea, which is a significant advancement over traditional ground-based processing methods.

Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA Space, underscored the impact of this technology, stating, "The industry-leading capability of MDA CHORUSTM to process and exploit radar data onboard the satellite will significantly reduce the time required to get actionable maritime domain awareness information into the hands of our mission-critical customers." This new service will support a range of missions, including counter-piracy, narcotics smuggling, illegal fishing, and human trafficking, highlighting its broad application and importance.

Hughes Network Systems: Revolutionizing In-Flight Connectivity

Hughes Network Systems has unveiled its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) for In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) at the Aircraft Interiors Expo. This state-of-the-art technology is designed to provide enterprise-grade, low-latency, high-speed connectivity for commercial aviation, significantly enhancing the passenger experience.

Reza Rasoulian, Senior Vice President of the Aviation Business Unit at Hughes, described the impact of this innovation, stating, "Passengers can now enjoy a frictionless high-speed, low-latency internet experience from their seat." The Hughes In-Flight Connectivity LEO ESA is compact, lightweight, and energy-efficient, optimized for the Eutelsat OneWeb LEO system, ensuring that airlines can implement or upgrade their inflight services without compromising performance or passenger comfort.

Orbit Communications Systems: Advanced Connectivity for Business Aviation

Orbit Communications Systems has successfully demonstrated the capabilities of its AirTRx30 SATCOM terminal over Viasat's Global Xpress satellites. The AirTRx30, designed for business aviation, offers high-speed connectivity, ensuring a transformative onboard experience. With a compact design featuring a 12-inch antenna weighing less than 22 pounds and low power consumption, the AirTRx30 provides optimal performance across all elevation angles.

Daniel Eschar, CEO of Orbit, emphasized the system's capabilities, stating, "Our AirTRx30 system delivers next-generation capabilities for data-intensive activities such as video streaming, live TV, conference calls, large file transfers, and countless other business applications." Kai Tang, Head of Business Aviation at Viasat, highlighted the collaboration with Orbit as an example of evolving solutions to meet customer demand, ensuring reliable and consistent in-flight connectivity.

Collins Aerospace: Retrofit Innovation in Business Jets

Collins Aerospace, a business of RTX, has completed the first retrofit of a Prince Aviation Cessna 525 Citation Jet with its IRT NX SATCOM system, providing high-speed cabin connectivity through the Iridium Certus 700 satellite service. This modification represents a significant advancement in business jet connectivity, enabling speeds up to 704 kbps.

Nathan Voight, Vice President and General Manager of Business and Regional Avionics at Collins Aerospace, noted the importance of this development, stating, "Our Iridium SATCOM solution can facilitate advanced aircraft connectivity on most aircraft types, including very light jets." The system's compact size and lighter weight enable quicker installation and minimal drag, ensuring a seamless connectivity experience for passengers.

Gogo Business Aviation: Expanding In-Flight Broadband Solutions

Gogo Business Aviation is partnering with ALAMO Engineering GmbH to develop a European Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the Gogo Galileo HDX antenna for Cessna Citation Latitude midsize jets. This partnership aims to deliver a true broadband service to midsize and smaller aircraft flying in Europe and globally. Joerg Gorkenant, general manager for ALAMO Engineering GmbH, emphasized the uniqueness of this solution, stating, "The Gogo Galileo solution for midsize and smaller aircraft is unique. It will finally provide a true broadband service to those aircraft that fly in Europe, and globally."

The STC for the Latitude will cover nearly 400 aircraft in operation today worldwide. This will be the fourth STC for the HDX Gogo Galileo system, with other European STCs including the Cessna Citation 525 series and the Embraer Phenom 300. These STCs will be validated with other aviation authorities worldwide.

Shuaib Shahid, head of international sales for Gogo Business Aviation, highlighted the strategic importance of ALAMO Engineering, stating, "ALAMO Engineering will be a key strategic partner for Gogo as we expand internationally and bring Gogo Galileo to market."

The Gogo Galileo will operate on the Eutelsat OneWeb enterprise-grade Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellite network, which is fully deployed. Gogo is now accepting purchase orders for the new service and will have a CJ1+ available for in-person demos at the European Business Aviation Conference and Expo (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 28-30. In June, Gogo will install the Galileo HDX system on its Bombardier Challenger 300 testbed and begin flight testing this summer.

The advancements in satellite and communication technologies are driving a profound transformation in the aviation and marine industries. Companies like Intelsat, SES, MDA Space, Hughes Network Systems, Orbit Communications Systems, Collins Aerospace, and Gogo Business Aviation are at the forefront of these innovations, offering cutting-edge solutions that enhance connectivity, operational efficiency, and user experiences. As these technologies continue to evolve, they promise to further revolutionize these critical sectors, paving the way for a new era of connectivity and data utilization.

Related Links
Hughes Aeronautical Mobility
Orbit Communication Systems
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