Mobile satellite communications company, Inmarsat, is working with Boeing on a project to enable digital aircraft transformation through ‘smart pipe’ technology. According to the partners, this advance in communications technology will provide fast and secure inflight broadband connectivity, from the cockpit to the cabin, allowing airlines to use multiple third-party applications at the same time, with the first application being the Boeing 777X.
The infrastructure has been designed to independently allocate connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications, enabling airlines to unlock operational benefits such as predictive maintenance, route optimisation, modernised air traffic management and real-time crew communications. The network will also offer benefits in terms of enhanced passenger entertainment, including high-speed internet and live television.
This ‘smart pipe’ functionality means that applications delivered on two of Inmarsat’s satcom solutions – GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) – are each able to have a unique service level agreement and guaranteed performance levels, independent of other applications that are also operating through the same terminal.
Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said, “Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SB-S are already established as the aviation industry’s most advanced global connectivity solutions. Now, with the addition of ‘smart pipe’ functionality, we are paving the way for a more connected and integrated future, which is crucial for airlines around the world that are transforming their business with the power of digital technology.
“This is a significant milestone in developing the truly connected aircraft and reinforces Inmarsat’s key role in serving the aviation industry with a suite of operational and passenger connectivity services. The results from initial tests for our ‘smart pipe’ are promising and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Boeing in preparation for the forthcoming entry into service of its new 777X aircraft.”
Inmarsat’s ‘smart pipe’ technology will initially be available to airlines that have either ordered or plan to order the Boeing 777X. In addition, these capabilities will be available as upgrades on other aircraft models.
According to the London School of Economics (LSE) in its Sky High Economics report, the connected aircraft will save the aviation industry US$15 billion annually by 2035, and this combined development between Inmarsat and Boeing represents a step towards achieving this goal.