Press Release
Press Release

Inmarsat waits in the wings as Connexion cutoff sinks in
Inmarsat waits in the wings as Connexion cutoff sinks in
September 01, 2006

As further details of the Connexion by Boeing shutdown plan emerge, it is becoming increasingly clear that airlines who want to retain a passenger broadband capability will have to turn to a completely different technology, most probably Inmarsat.

Carriers like Lufthansa and Etihad value Connexion and have voiced hopes of a continuation of the service in some form. But Boeing insists that CBB for
air transport will be phased out by the end of the year and is developing a service bulletin prescribing a phased removal of the onboard equipment to minimise aircraft downtime.

Besides Lufthansa and Etihad, Connexion numbers Air China, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, China Airlines, El Al, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, SAS and Singapore Airlines in its customer base. Several of these carriers have expressed their determination to carry on offering inflight email and Internet access by one means or another.

China Airlines sees connectivity as an emerging trend and is evaluating other systems, as is El Al. Lufthansa says it hopes that new providers will emerge in the coming months, and Singapore Airlines sees a demand for connectivity and is exploring possible alternatives.

Korean Air is studying OnAir’s Inmarsat-based service and has issued a request for proposals to Panasonic Avionics relating to the broadband service it announced earlier this year. Further details of the Panasonic offering, including the identity of the satellite bearer system, could emerge at this month’s WAEA show in Miami. In the meantime, Korean says it is asking Boeing to refund at least $12 million, and possibly more, of the money it spent on fitting its aircraft for Connexion.

With Boeing intent on leaving the game, currently the only credible providers of satellite capacity to support airline passenger connectivity are Inmarsat and ARINC Direct.

London-based Inmarsat has a long history in the L-band aeronautical satcoms market and plans to introduce its SwiftBroadband 432kbit/sec capability next June. Most long-haul airliners are already equipped with Inmarsat terminals and high-gain antennas and their operators would have to make only a modest extra investment to obtain SwiftBroadband.

The service will be available worldwide apart from the poles as soon as Inmarsat launches its third and last fourth-generation satellite.

ARINC Direct’s SKYLink service is based on leased capacity on multipurpose Ku-band satellites and is offered to the corporate aviation market in North America and Europe.