Connectivity, including onboard Wi-Fi, satellite connectivity solutions, in-flight mobile phone use and personal electronic device use, is ruled by geography, airport infrastructure, airline models and regulatory and economic frameworks, according to experts. We will take a look at the status of these drivers to learn where the industry is, how it drives growth in the market and what is next for connectivity within the aviation industry.
SmartSky Networks and Honeywell Aerospace are showcasing the reliability and value of SmartSky’s Air-to-Ground connectivity across the US. The companies closed out a highly successful NBAA-BACE in late October, flying prospects from Orlando to their choice of destination.
One prospective customer flew a three-hour route from Orlando to Dallas with five passengers and crew utilizing multiple devices and consuming multiple gigabytes of data during the continuously connected flight. Now the team is visiting select sites across the country to give customers a first-hand look at the SmartSky service and Honeywell’s connected applications.
“Customers need a relatable measure to compare the value of inflight connectivity systems. Peak speeds don’t describe what you can actually do when connected, experiencing the service on a typical flight is the ultimate test,” says Adam Sheppard, director of Aircraft Connectivity at Honeywell Aerospace. “When you know that everyone onboard will be able to make full use of their devices and get done what they need to, it makes selecting SmartSky as a connectivity provider the smarter choice.”
Beginning in December, members of SmartSky and Honeywell teams will be stopping at locations in California, Washington, Texas, and more. Demonstration flights will give qualified prospects and MRO partners the opportunity to experience SmartSky’s advanced ATG connectivity hardware and service for themselves. Participants will see why the SmartSky installation process is fast and efficient, requires only one maintenance period and comes with world-class post-sale support.
“Our distribution partners and customers work together to select the systems that best meet their aircraft’s mission. Working collaboratively throughout the process ensures that the WiFi solution and experience meet everyone’s expectations,” said Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky. “That expectation includes one simple install and activation with a timely return to service. Of the next-gen broadband connectivity systems talked about in the market today, only SmartSky is available for installation and use now.”
Thales partnered with Spirit Airlines, to offer FlytLIVE, Thales’ high-performance connectivity solution. The Spirit all-Airbus fleet is among the youngest in the U.S. Now, Spirit’s A320s and A321s are flying with Thales’ FlytLIVE high-speed connectivity; additional Spirit aircraft will also be equipped with FlytLIVE.
Spirit’s passengers will have access to full Internet services on all Spirit flights on A320 and A321 aircraft, which is more than 80% of their fleet. The companies says the service gives an “at home experience” in the air that includes video streaming, playing games and connecting on social media using their phone or tablet.
FlytLIVE will also enable Spirit Airlines to develop new features for and create innovative revenue generation and advertising opportunities.
Thales’ FlytLIVE is delivering the most advanced Ka-band High-Throughput connectivity solution. Using SES and Hughes next-generation aviation satellite network and technology, FlytLIVE will provide Spirit Airlines with the fastest Wi-Fi in sky. With ultra-high speeds of up to 400 Mbps.
“At Thales, we are proud to partner with Spirit Airlines in their mission to enhance the guest experience and are truly excited to have 100% of their A320 & A321 fleet equipped with FlytLIVE,” said TK Kallenbach, CEO Thales InFlyt Experience. “The system’s reliability and performance is getting rave reviews from Spirit’s passengers who can now stream to their heart’s content.”
With the SES-17 satellitenow operational, Thales’ FlytLIVE provides unmatched performance, speed and coverage across the Americas and the Atlantic. The SES satellite manufactured by Thales Alenia Space is equipped with close to 200 beams of mixed size for more flexible allocation of capacity over high-traffic airline routes to deliver seamless connectivity and outstanding performance.
Jamco Corporation, an aircraft interior products supplier and turnkey integrator in the aerospace industry, highlights the new “Quest for Elegance” seat, a brand-new business class seat concept that meets the demand for an inventive, spacious seat for high density business class interior cabins without compromising comfort. Featuring a new patented angled tilt monitor and an industrial design focused on providing an elegant premium hotel in the sky while maintaining competitive density, the Quest seat maximizes the passenger experience. In recognition of this design excellence, Jamco’s Quest seat was awarded the iF DESIGN AWARD 2022, one of the most prestigious international design awards.
The Quest Seat features a one-of-a-kind tilting entertainment screen with a wide-angle adjustment, allowing passengers to enjoy entertainment in either reclined, sleep, or bed mode position. The tilting monitor option results in 30 percent more knee space than any other high density business class seat offered.
For those traveling in pairs, the Quest Seat reveals a roomy super full-flat bed when two center seats are combined. Also available for those seeking more privacy are easily deployable partitions and an optional aisle side door.
Jamco expects to have the Quest ready for installation in 2024 or early 2025.
Honeywell is developing the next generation of its JetWave satellite communications system to lower the cost of inflight, high-speed broadband connectivity while also significantly increasing connection speeds. Targeted for certification in 2023, the next generation of JetWave will feature multinetwork, multiconstellation capability, as well as speeds up to 100 megabits per second.
“JetWave is the gold standard of cabin connectivity in business aviation, and we’re about to raise the bar even higher,” said Steve Hadden, vice president, Services & Connectivity, Honeywell Aerospace. “Our next generation of JetWave will unlock a wider Ka frequency and utilize the next generation of very-high throughput satellites. Additionally, new service plans will make this connectivity more affordable than it’s ever been.”
Honeywell says JetWave allows passengers to download large files, videoconference with colleagues or livestream a favorite show or sporting event – even on transoceanic flights. The next-generation JetWave offering will expand on those capabilities and initially enter into service with Inmarsat’s global JetConneX Ka-band service. This will enable previously announced JX Evolution plans, which offer increased speeds and capacity. In 2024, the service options enabled by the next-generation JetWave are planned to expand to other Ka-band networks via Honeywell’s satellite network partners. “This will bring a new level of flexibility and choice for business aviation operators,” the company said.
There are more than 3,000 JetWave systems being utilized globally for in-flight connectivity. Commercial incentives for current JetWave customers who wish to upgrade will be offered closer to the product’s availability in 2023.
The world is eagerly embracing 5G technology, the fifth generation wireless network that gives communications service providers the ability to deliver ultra-fast “intelligent connectivity.” Offering greater bandwidth and low latency, 5G can transfer huge amounts of data potentially 100 times faster than 4G, allow applications to connect and share data in real time, and enable networks to handle 100 times the number of connected devices.
More than a data network upgrade, 5G is widely described as the essential platform of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), or Industry 4.0, which heralds the digitization of manufacturing and represents a major change in how the world is connected. This significant transformation is disrupting industries worldwide with emerging and evolving technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
5G’s high throughput and quality of service is already enabling rapid advancements in telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, collaborative robotics, and smart traffic control, which depend on data and machine learning in order to function effectively. With 5G, the average consumer’s experience is also enhanced by high-quality connectivity that enables working remotely, faster content streaming, and access to greater services.
Aviation itself is one of the industries that has most to gain from the advanced connectivity delivered by 5G. “Ever since 2G has been available, cellular data connectivity has been used to harvest aircraft operational data in bulk, which is automatically and routinely analyzed to improve flight safety,” said Willie Cecil, director, aircraft data and edge solutions for FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd.
“Now there is increasing demand for ever-increasing amounts of data to feed maturing predictive maintenance, operational efficiency, and business intelligence applications enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. In the past, 3G and 4G technology have fallen short in their efforts to harvest the higher data volume available from new aircraft, but 5G provides the data rates and capacity that is needed,” said Cecil.
With so much at stake and so much to gain from 5G, countries around the globe have been eager to roll out 5G networks to gain a competitive advantage and “win the race to 5G.” To date, many countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, and Thailand, have successfully deployed their 5G networks without issue, while also including mitigations to preserve aviation safety and uninterrupted services — but by comparison, the U.S. rollout has been rockier.
During its annual general meeting in June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) used the U.S. 5G experience as a cautionary tale. IATA Director General Willie Walsh urged governments to work closely with the aviation industry to ensure that aviation and incumbent aviation safety systems can safely co-exist with new 5G services. “We must not repeat the recent experience in the United States, where the rollout of C-band spectrum 5G services created enormous disruption to aviation, owing to the potential risk of interference with radio altimeters that are critical to aircraft landing and safety systems,” said Walsh.
The U.S. 5G Rollout
In the United States, 5G has already been widely deployed, including at airports in low-band frequencies previously used by earlier-generation networks, giving long range with data rates a little faster than 4G LTE; at mid-band frequencies providing much higher data rates; and at high-band “mm Wave” 5G frequencies, which are short range but provide ultra-fast data rates.
The first 5G mobile networks in the U.S. began rolling out in early 2019, when Verizon was the first telecommunications carrier to offer commercial 5G service in designated areas near Chicago and Minneapolis before expanding to other major cities. T-Mobile and AT&T soon followed suit with their own 5G networks. Later, T-Mobile was the first of the three carriers to establish the widest mid-band 5G coverage in the U.S. nationwide, including at airports, using sub-6 GHz frequencies that don’t conflict with aircraft radio altimeter frequencies.
The 5G rollout in the U.S. proceeded largely without incident until 2020, when — despite safety concerns voiced by the aviation sector — the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned off rights to a higher bandwidth range from 3.7 to 3.98 GHz, known as the C-band radio spectrum, frequencies adjacent to those used by radio altimeters.
It’s well documented that the FAA and other aviation stakeholders, including manufacturers and trade associations, had been consistently warning the FCC for many years about the potential for 5G C-band interference with radio altimeters. For example, A4A filed comments in 2018 raising those concerns in response to an FCC public notice about the potential use of C-band frequencies. Nevertheless, the FCC sold the C-band spectrum rights to telecommunications carriers for about $80 billion, and leading carriers Verizon and AT&T began building infrastructure to support their plans for 5G C-band services.
In late 2021, the FAA raised the alarm about the risk of potential adverse effects on radio altimeters, and a multi-stakeholder group comprising aviation trade associations and manufacturers contacted the FCC with concerns about the potential for 5G C-band interference with aircraft radio altimeters.
In support of safety considerations for U.S. flight operations, Verizon and AT&T agreed with the FAA on Jan. 18, 2022, to deploy 5G C-band on Jan. 19, 2022, except around key airports, and also to continue working with the federal government on safe 5G deployment at those airport locations. These voluntary agreements averted widespread disruption to the National Airspace System, the traveling and shipping public, the global supply chain, and the U.S. economy.
Airlines for America (A4A) published a report estimating that if the FAA had not agreed to work with manufacturers and wireless carriers on mitigation efforts, but instead gone forward with implementing safety restrictions on the operation of all types of civil aircraft in response to anticipated 5G interference issues, those actions potentially would have been disruptive to the U.S. air transportation system in the following ways:
• Impacting 32 million passengers
• Delaying, diverting, or cancelling 345,000 airline flights and 5,400 cargo flights
• Costing airline passengers $1.59 billion per year in disruption costs in the form of lost time, productivity and wages
Both of the wireless carriers agreed to the temporary and voluntary power mitigations near airports to minimize flight disruptions in the United States until July 1, 2023 — an offer contingent on the aviation industry’s measurable progress in improving radio altimeter resilience in preparation for wireless operators to raise their network power to the 62 dBm level previously authorized by the FCC.
Implications for the International Community
Airlines based outside the U.S. have been concerned about how the U.S.’s approach to 5G C-band implementation might delay or otherwise hamper their operations to the U.S. as the July 2023 milestone approaches. “Foreign airlines operating in U.S. airspace will have the same obligation to comply with the upgrade/retrofit deadline as domestic carriers, and as such, will be in the same type of queues for the necessary tools and avionics maintenance resources as other carriers,” said Amit Malhotra, spokesperson for 5G and avionics testing provider VIAVI Solutions.
In mid-2022, a coalition of the eight international airline associations representing almost all of the more than 100 foreign airlines that serve the U.S. market submitted a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen expressing their strong concern regarding the decision by the FAA to require that specific large commercial aircraft be retrofitted with new or modified radio altimeters by July 2023 in order to continue to utilize Category 2 and 3 low visibility procedures when landing at most major U.S. airports.
“As presented to the industry, this mandate will have a negative impact on the ability of major foreign carriers to maintain normal operations to the United States, as well as potentially impact other global operations, where U.S. airports are selected as destination alternates,” stated the coalition, made up of the African Airlines Association, Airlines for Europe, Arab Air Carriers’ Organization, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, Association of South Pacific Airlines, Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association, International Air Transport Association, and National Airlines Council of Canada.
The coalition listed many concerns questioning the viability of a July 2023 deadline, including:
• The lack of any formal regulatory process from the FAA requiring air carriers to retrofit by July 2023
• Supply chain issues that might affect the ability of radio altimeter manufacturers to deliver enough retrofit kits to airlines in a timely way
• How the FAA will certify any retrofit solutions being offered by radio altimeter manufacturers
• The lack of FAA formal guidance or regulatory guidance on performance specifications for current and/or future radio altimeters with regards to 5G interference
• The potential exclusion of foreign carriers from U.S. markets due to an inability to meet the retrofit deadline, which raises potential issues under relevant U.S. bilateral air service agreements
As of this writing, IATA reports that the FAA has addressed at least some of the coalition’s stated concerns, but it still wants the FAA to do more. “Most recently, FAA has acknowledged that at most, 75% of all impacted aircraft will be retrofitted by the deadline. They are recommending that foreign airlines segment their fleets,” said Doug Lavin, IATA vice president of member and external relations, North America.
“We need a formal regulatory process with a mandate to underpin this entire exercise,” Lavin said. “This is particularly important for foreign airlines that are state-owned, because state-owned airlines’ governments will not necessarily permit their carriers to spend money on requirements from a foreign government (i.e., the U.S. government) without an accompanying formal mandate in the form of a rulemaking or some other regulatory action. We have done a survey of non-U.S. carriers, and it is become increasingly clear for the reasons outlined in the letter that it will be very difficult for a significant number of them to meet the deadline,” he concluded.
A Realistic Deadline?
During IATA’s annual meeting, Walsh expressed doubt in the U.S. timeline, noting that “FAA’s unilateral decision to require airlines to replace or upgrade their existing radio altimeters…by July 2023 is deeply disappointing and unrealistic.” However, other industry stakeholders have stated that the July 2023 deadline is reasonable and attainable.
“In general, the U.S. service providers are implementing C-band responsibly, as we have significant experience supporting them in meticulously testing networks before and during deployment,” said VIAVI’s Malhotra. “The general public has seen substantial benefits from this implementation, including wider coverage and faster and more reliable connectivity. Ultimately, the government’s upgrade/retrofit deadline will be met if industry can furnish the tools and the aviation industry can affordably schedule their deployment by July 2023.”
In Nolen’s response to the IATA-led coalition of airline associations, he wrote: “The FAA firmly believes that the most effective way for airlines to stay abreast of this situation is to work directly with aircraft manufacturers and suppliers through their existing relationships. The manufacturers are best positioned to assist their customers in determining how to meet the goal of ensuring specific fleets can continue to operate safely in U.S. airspace beyond July 1, 2023.”
For example, avionics manufacturer Thales has introduced an innovative band-pass filter design solution for its radio altimeters, which provides immunity to 5G signal interferences that otherwise impact safe aviation operations. “These upgraded radio altimeters have already begun to be deployed in airlines’ fleets operating in the USA, on track to complete all impacted Thales customers by or before the deadlines set forth by the FAA and 5G stakeholders,” according to the company.
“We understand that significant effort will be required to complete this work on the domestic and international fleets,” said Nolen in his letter. “Encouragingly, an increasing number of operators have placed orders for retrofit kits to protect their aircraft before the expiration of the mitigations. The FAA remains in close contact with OEMs and radio altimeter manufacturers to quickly identify and address any obstacles that might hinder this progress.”
Filters and replacement units for the mainline commercial fleet should be available on a schedule that would permit the radio altimeter retrofit work to be largely completed by July 2023, according to the FAA. The altimeter retrofits are designed to protect aircraft in the signal environment that the FCC has authorized for all licensees around major metropolitan areas.
The agency notes that Verizon and AT&T agreed to extend their voluntary mitigations to July 2023, even though they are legally able to turn on their systems at full FCC-approved power today, if they wanted to. However, 19 other companies licensed by the FCC are also prepared to activate their 5G networks by the end of 2023, and none of them are covered by this same voluntary agreement.
“Because the FAA has no authority to prevent or otherwise limit any wireless provider from operating in accordance with the FCC’s 2020 Rule and Order [expanding flexible use of the C-band for 5G], the aviation industry must rise to the challenge of completing the retrofits as soon as possible,” said Nolen.
Radio altimeter manufacturers have worked at an “unprecedented pace” with Embraer, Boeing, Airbus, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop and test filters and installation kits for these aircraft, according to the FAA. Customers began receiving the first kits in the summer, and in most cases, the kits can be installed in a few hours at airline maintenance facilities.
With respect to retrofit approvals, the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil has approved the retrofits to Embraer aircraft, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency recently approved a specific radio altimeter retrofit on some Airbus models. The FAA has approved both retrofits and also is tracking the progress of additional approvals in the coming months.
Looking ahead, the FAA has reconvened the Safety Review Board to assess risk once the wireless providers raise power levels, which will inform any actions the agency must take to ensure continued safety in U.S. airspace. Nolen anticipates the agency will make the results of that evaluation public in the last quarter of 2022.
Why U.S. 5G Deployment Differed
Prior to their voluntary agreement with the FAA in January 2022, U.S. telecom providers Verizon and AT&T had been poised to activate new 5G services at higher power levels and on more critical radio frequencies than anywhere in the world without the necessary safety mitigations near airports. Many have asked, how did the U.S. land in this situation when all other countries so far have not?
According to Airlines for Aviation, comparisons of international examples versus U.S. 5G deployment are apples-to-oranges. Unlike the disconnect experienced by the FCC and FAA in the U.S., governments in other countries heeded aviation industry concerns and addressed them through mitigations in advance of their 5G rollouts.
A4A also reported that the allocated frequencies for 5G internationally are generally farther away from the radio frequency band used by radio altimeters. In addition, the permitted power levels are often significantly lower than those authorized in the U.S. Many other countries have also effectively utilized a combination of exclusion zones around airports, lower power levels and directional changes to antennas to mitigate interference.
The FAA likewise noted that deployments of 5G technology in other countries often involve different conditions than those proposed for the U.S., including:
• Lower power levels
• Antennas adjusted to reduce potential interference to flights
• Different placement of antennas relative to airfields
• Frequencies with a different proximity to frequencies used by aviation equipment
Ultimately, though the path hasn’t always been smooth, the FAA says it continues to hold itself and the aviation sector to the highest safety standards while addressing its unique 5G deployment challenges.
For more information about 5G and aviation safety in the U.S., visit the FAA website at www.faa.gov/5g.
Inmarsat has entered a new technology partnership with Teledyne Controls, a leading manufacturer and innovator of aircraft data management solutions, to enhance and support airlines’ digital operations across Europe as part of the ground-breaking Iris air traffic modernization program.
The partnership will see the integration of Inmarsat’s SB-S platform, powered by its global ELERA satellite network, with Teledyne’s Aircraft Interface Device (AID+)-enabled GroundLink Comm+ communication system and third-party Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) software, currently installed on over 14,000 aircraft with 200 airlines. Combining Inmarsat and Teledyne’s innovations into one comprehensive, end-to-end solution will help bring real-time IP connectivity to aircraft across Europe.
This partnership means more airlines can reap the benefits – from reduced delays, fuel savings and reduced carbon emissions, to better situational awareness for pilots – achieving greater return on investment (ROI), which is critical as the aviation industry looks to continue its recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Joel Klooster, senior vice president of Aircraft Operations and Safety at Inmarsat Aviation, said “Inmarsat is excited to partner with Teledyne to optimize our airline customers’ operations even further through next-level innovation. For airlines, the combination of technologies across a wider choice of airframes through retrofit, will enable more accurate flight tracking and a reduced environmental impact, while passengers will benefit from fewer delays and shorter flight times. All of this means Inmarsat’s customers can get a great return on investment on their technologies, bolstering their bottom line.”
Teledyne Controls’ technologies offer advanced capability in automatic data exchange, accelerating data transfers between airborne systems, ground-based equipment, and the cloud – as well as transferring critical data while in-flight. This includes continuously sending avionics data to support flight data monitoring and aircraft tracking, offering operators consistent, near real-time updates on selected data.
In addition, Inmarsat and Teledyne will integrate and test with commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ EFB applications from a variety of third-party partners. Demonstrating applications collaboratively, such as real-time multi-source meteorology, System Wide Information Management (SWIM), flight profile optimisation, and electronic document management for crew, will validate further the commercial advantage of connected aircraft to airlines.
“By leveraging Inmarsat’s ELERA network and SB-S platform through this partnership, we are able to extend our capabilities and the innovations they bring to customers even further,” said Jim Jackson, VP of Business Development and Strategy at Teledyne Controls. “Our combined technologies will promote sustainability for the airlines through optimization with real-time data to the flight deck and the ground. Now more than ever, we want airlines to be able to reap the rewards of their investment in technologies, and we are thrilled to be working with Inmarsat to deliver this for our customers.”
OAG recently released Megahubs 2022, a list of the Top 50 most internationally connected airports in the world and the Top 25 most domestically connected airports in the U.S. Last updated in 2019, Megahubs provides fresh insights into how ongoing air travel disruption has affected global connectivity over the past three years.
A strong domestic aviation market propelled U.S. airports to dominate Megahubs this year. Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) moved up from its third-place 2019 ranking and is now the #1 most internationally connected airport in the world and leads North America for the fifth consecutive time. On the busiest day of aviation at ORD, there were 43,350 possible connections within a six-hour window, compared to 65,294 in 2019.
O’Hare is followed globally by Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Atlanta (ATL), Seattle (SEA), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York John F. Kennedy (JFK). In total, 18 U.S. airports landed on the Top 50 with 13 taking the top 20 spots. Domestically, Atlanta ranks #2 and Dallas/Fort Worth ranks #3 in the U.S. Outside of North America, the most connected airport was Indira Gandhi International Airport(DEL), which came in #13 globally.
“With a total of 66 destinations served in August 2022 and ranking third in the world in terms of total capacity, O’Hare launched to #1 on the world stage,” said John Grant, chief analyst at OAG. “Given the combination of fewer international destinations and the strength of recovery in the U.S. domestic market, it’s not surprising that seven U.S. airports have taken the top global spots this year.”
The top three U.S. airports are dominated by United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. United Airlines owns 46% of flights at O’Hare (down 2% from 2019) and American Airlines owns 85% at Dallas/Fort Worth. Delta Airlines has a 77% share of flights at Atlanta.
Eight U.S. airports also landed on the Top 25 Low-Cost Carrier Megahubs list, with Denver International Airport (DEN) ranking third overall – up from its #55 ranking in 2019 – due to the strong presence of Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines. United Airlines is the dominant carrier at DEN, with a 52% share of flights.
London Heathrow (LHR) dropped to #22 globally after ranking as the #1 most internationally connected airport in 2019. The number of possible connections on the busiest day of aviation at LHR has fallen by 40% as a result of schedule reductions which affected high frequency short-haul routes.Mexico City Juarez International Airport (MEX) is now the highest ranked non-U.S. Megahub, which came in #8 globally.
Megahubs is created using OAG’s fligth data platform of the most comprehensive airlines schedules and global flight connections database in the world. Fight connectivity is based on regional location and airline type. Rankings include the dominant airline at each hub and the share of flights operated by that carrier. In some instances during recovery, flight and destination combinations have been radically changed, leading to notable names missing in Megahubs 2022.
Tetra Tech has been awarded a technical assistance contract by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to support Mexico’s civil aviation program. Under this 18-month contract, our technology and aviation experts will optimize airspace communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management.
Tetra Tech will use simulation models and advanced data analytics to develop a phased national civil aviation master plan for the Mexican Federal Civil Aviation Agency. We will apply Tetra Tech’s patented Volans software as a service (SaaS) technology to provide optimized airspace capacity, economic analysis, and environmental solutions. This project is a priority for the Mexican government to carry out its mandate of air traffic management oversight in the country.
“The Tetra Tech Federal IT Group has provided lifecycle services to support the Federal Aviation Administration and other international aviation authorities in their mission to deliver safe, efficient, and sustainable airspace for more than 20 years,” said Tetra Tech Chairman and CEO Dan Batrack. “We are pleased to use our cutting-edge Volans technology to support USTDA and the Mexican civil aviation program in this critical transportation infrastructure project that will improve aviation performance, operations, and safety as part of Mexico’s multi-year National Infrastructure Program.”
Intelsat General Communications (IGC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat, announced the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has awarded IGC partner Telecom International (TI) a contract to support the FBI’s mission requirement for resilient, secure, on-demand communications in clear and contested environments across the globe.
TI will be using IGC’S FlexAir to assist the FBI in meeting critical missions as it has other airborne government teams with the speed and reliability needed for real-time situational awareness and seamless command, control and communication. FlexAir leverages the world’s largest, high performing GEO satellite fleet, combining multi-layered, Ku-band HTS coverage with wide and spot beams to bring broadband connectivity around the globe – including the most trafficked flight routes.
“IGC is committed to delivering a high-performance managed service to all types of government aero users,” said IGC President, Dave Micha. “We understand government missions require unwavering service, in the toughest of environments and on non-negotiable deadlines. Intelsat will always rise to the challenge.”
This solution delivers preflight, in-route transit, and on-station data, voice, and video communication capabilities anywhere in the world. FlexAir enables the FBI’s wide range of applications that require dynamic, resilient high-bandwidth capacity on-demand.
In collaboration with TI, IGC FlexAir partner Satcom Direct (SD) Government will provide service delivery and the best in reliability 24/7 year-round, to optimize the customer experience on the ground and in the air.
“Satcom Direct will ensure that the FBI can rely on first-rate connectivity in support of all mission requirements, that’s our customer commitment as an IGC FlexAir Partner,” said Hayden Olson, general manager, Satcom Direct.
Intelsat, operator of one of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network and leading provider of inflight connectivity (IFC), recently announced the beginning of Intelsat’s inflight connectivity services in Indian skies through an agreement with Nelco, India’s leading satellite communication service provider.
This agreement is welcome news for Intelsat’s airline partners and flyers as they will enjoy end-to-end broadband coverage on domestic and international aircraft flying to or from an Indian airport, as well as aircraft flying over the country.
“In addition to expanding our service coverage area for current customer airlines, our agreement with Nelco opens the possibility for Intelsat to serve India’s domestic airlines,” said Jeff Sare, president of Commercial Aviation at Intelsat. “This is a fast-growing airline market, and there is considerable untapped potential for IFC growth.”
Intelsat’s IFC service enables airline passengers a seamless at-home and in-office connectivity experience. Further, it allows an airline to differentiate itself, enhancing the passenger experience while driving passenger loyalty and optimizing flight operations.
“We are proud that Nelco has forged this relationship with in-flight connectivity pioneer Intelsat to offer Aero IFC services on their customer aircraft,” said PJ Nath, managing director & CEO of NELCO. “As India’s leading Satcom service provider offering best-in-class services, we are now creating a great opportunity through this relationship with Intelsat for further growth of our Aero IFC services in the country in the coming years – and we intend to be a leader in this market in India.”
Nelco has been offering the Aero IFC services for more than two years with plans to introduce these services to more airlines in collaboration with its global partners.
Nelco will provide these services using Intelsat’s IS-33e high throughput satellite. IS-33e was launched in 2016 which provides C and Ku-band connectivity to parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Intelsat’s IS-33e satellite is approved by Indian government regulators, paving the way for coverage with no interruptions or blackout zones.
The service is available on Intelsat partner airlines and their passengers on aircraft now.