Honeywell Aerospace is in talks with five potential airline customers for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite-based in-flight connectivity service, and hopes to make another announcement before the summer.
The supplier, which is providing the onboard hardware to support GX, finished its critical design review in January and will carry out the first ground link-up with Inmarsat’s F1 satellite in May.
Everything is “proceeding to plan” and GX remains on track to enter service in the first half of 2015, says Honeywell vice-president of marketing and product management Jack Jacobs.
Air China in February became the first airline to sign a memorandum of understanding to begin testing the Ka-band satellite-based connectivity solution. Jacobs says the carrier will begin working with Honeywell “this fall” on testing the system on a Honeywell-owned Boeing 757.
It will then begin testing on one of its own aircraft, which will probably be an Airbus A330, says Jacobs. Air China will likely be the first airline to launch GX.
The high-speed in-flight connectivity service will serve three main constituencies: passengers, cockpit crew, and operations and maintenance. For passengers, the “fast pipe” is intended to provide “lots of bandwidth”, while for the cockpit it will enable the use of wireless charts and maps and real-time weather information. Real-time aircraft health monitoring will be the advantage on the operations and maintenance side.