Airlines looking for an in-flight satellite connection have a new way to choose. Airbus unveiled its HBCplus offering. a flexible satellite connectivity solution, at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this week.
The program brings connectivity options into the Supplier Furnished Equipment catalog for line-fit, as well as for retrofit on all Airbus aircraft lines. HBCplus, which initially encompasses Ka-band services, will enable airlines to connect to a choice of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) via a new certified terminal and radome built as part of the aircraft. In the future it is planned to extend HBCplus to include MSPs which offer Ku-band services.
We are excited to offer airlines a new connectivity service solution that will provide improved speed and reliability for passenger experience and more flexibility. Together with our leading industry partners we are pleased to enable future connectivity business opportunities in the context of the Airspace Link open ecosystem.– André Schneider, Airbus VP Cabin & Cargo Program
The program launches with Inmarsat as the launch network provider, and Safran Passenger Innovations (SPI) as the first antenna terminal hardware integrator.
For its part, Inmarsat is proud to have its GX Aviation solution chosen as the first network available in the catalog. Having it as a check-box on the new aircraft order paperwork offers a number of advantages, and the company sees more of that as the first provider in the catalog. But Inmarsat expects that competition is coming, and knows it must continue improvements.
Inmarsat’s William Huot-Marchand sees the new platform as an opportunity for the GX Aviation platform to shine. “The key is to provide innovation. Typically the more you standardize, the less you see innovation. “
Huot-Marchand continues, “When you pick great standard hardware that is powerful, reliable, cheaper, lighter, lower drag, the innovation will come from the software we will deliver, the way we manage the services, and bringing more applications to the platform.”
Our partnership with ThinKom and Astronics strongly supports SPI’s connectivity vision and supports our continued growth in the IFC market. The Ka2517 antenna solution, along with a MODMAN that supports multiple modem providers, are key pieces in supporting our customers and providing them with the best systems available today, and for the future.– John Andrews, Safran’s VP, Connectivity
ThinKom will supply its ThinAir® Ka2517 phased-array aero satellite antennas for SPI’s Ka-band commercial inflight connectivity (IFC) terminals The antenna will be packaged with a newly designed adapter plate, installation kit and in-cabin connectivity package provided by Astronics.
Astronics Connectivity Systems and Certifications (CSC) will also deliver its new Dual-modem Modem Manager (Modman) and a new support structure for the gear installed outside the aircraft. The Modman integrates multiple third-party aero modem cards in a 4MCU enclosure. The launch version of the Modman will include the iDirect iQ800 modem with multiple additional configurations available to provide flexibility for customers.
The integrated installation kit also includes a simplified installation design and novel use of quick disconnect fittings to improve the serviceability of the on-aircraft equipment. The low-profile antenna and radome reduces drag, fuel burn, and emissions.
SPI’s selection of a mechanical antenna solution for this terminal offering also raises some questions around the company’s efforts to deliver an electronically steered phased array solution to the market. The company had been developing that solution since at least AIX 2019. Whether this is the end of that effort or – more likely – another step in the evolution of the terminal offerings to continually deliver improved services remains to be seen.
A version of the Ka2517 antenna kit is currently installed on more than 150 single-aisle aircraft flying for Spirit Airlines and Air Canada. Thales Group handled the integration of that solution. It was also announced as an option from Inmarsat for its GX+ network. In the latter context, having Inmarsat using it on HBCplus is an easy transition.
This is the second deal delivered in as many weeks for ThinKom and Astronics. The pair separately announced last week a new ThinAir Ka1717 solution targeting the regional jet market.
More news from Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022
- ThinKom targets regional jets with smaller antenna solution
- Philippine Airlines adds streaming IFE with Inflight Dublin
- AERQ brings Welcome Board to Stelia’s Opera business class cabin
- Bluetooth pairing coming to Delta’s long-haul fleet
- Carlisle delivers ESA mount kit for Gilat
- Burrana secures power line-fit access for A320 family
- OneWeb, Stellar Blu confirm successful LEO in-flight connectivity tests on 777
- The future of aircraft interiors: Winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2022 announced
- Inflight Dublin expands deployments with Wideroe, Drukair
- Euphony promises top-quality sound without headphones
- Astronics boosts cabin WiFi, power offerings
- Starlink Scuttlebutt: Skepticism and Support
- Airbus advances 5G ATG connections in China
- Air Canada selects Intelsat 2Ku for A321 internet service
- In-flight connectivity’s next major hurdle: Smaller planes
- Telekom FlyNet app eases in-flight connectivity for Lufthansa passengers
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