Emirates has selected Inmarsat to provide inflight connectivity for its incoming fleet of 50 Airbus A350s, which enter service from 2024. This latest extension of the he long-standing partnership between Emirates and Inmarsat will connect the A350s with GX Aviation high-speed inflight broadband – the first Emirates aircraft to access the Global Xpress (GX) satellite network.
The GX network currently consists of five Ka-band satellites and is due to be further enhanced with the addition of seven more satellite payloads as part of Inmarsat’s fully funded technology roadmap. This project includes two Inmarsat-6s, both scheduled to enter service this year, which the company says are the most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built.
The next stage will see three additional satellites enter geostationary orbit – adding speed, capacity, and resilience – and two in highly elliptical orbit, which are due to launch later this year and enter service next year. Together, Inmarsat anticipates that the satellites will enable the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic, such as routes between the Middle East and North America.
William Huot-Marchand, Inmarsat Aviation’s senior vice president of inflight connectivity, said of the new technology: “GX Aviation is well positioned to meet growing passenger expectations around a digital onboard experience, offering high-speed connectivity with uninterrupted global coverage across all flight routes, even over the Arctic. We look forward to working closely with Emirates on the rollout and other exciting innovations”.
The enhanced GX Aviation network can open new opportunities for Emirates, adding non-stop global connectivity to its onboard offering. Indeed Inmarsat’s latest Passenger Experience Survey found that 77% of passengers worldwide say inflight wi-fi is important to them – 40% more than before the pandemic. Moreover, 97% say they now use their personal devices onboard, so providing a reliable, high-quality, and continuous connection is important.
Adel al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer, added, “Over the years, we have worked closely with Inmarsat and our supplier partners to ensure all our aircraft offer wi-fi connectivity. We look forward to finding ways and options to improve the connectivity on-board our aircraft by utilising GX Aviation for our Airbus A350 fleet. The advanced capabilities being introduced by the forthcoming satellites are particularly important, as this will boost capacity across our global network, including aircraft flying over the Arctic for routes between the Middle East and America.”