How does an airline go about comparing the inflight wifi connectivity options available on the 787 Dreamliner? Lots of contract details about pricing and delivery timeframes are certainly critical, but occasionally the data is summed up into two slides in a briefing deck. For Italian charter operator NEOS the contest settled between Viasat and Panasonic Avionics back in 2017. It appears the carrier chose neither vendor, but the summary of the positioning from the two finalists is intriguing.
Competition is generally good news for customers and bad news for the company that dominates a market. The recent strategic partnership announcement by Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics will bring competition to the on-board terminal hardware for the Global Xpress (GX) inflight connectivity solution. Today's exclusive provider Honeywell appears unfazed – and even optimistic – at the developments.
As the new Thales/Spirit Airlines Ka-band inflight wifi connectivity solution inches closer to flight testing it appears necessary to dispel one rumor about timing and opine on a very different one about the antenna technology that will be used on board.
Low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations promise higher capacity and lower latency for connections. They also bring significant challenges, mostly owing to far more frequent satellite switching to maintain a connection. Add in an airplane moving though the sky and the complexity increases further. Multiple vendors are now moving through the testing process, with plans to deliver functional solutions as early as 2019, well ahead of the satellite constellations being ready for such connections.
Outgoing Spirit Airlines CEO Bob Fornaro is no stranger to the inflight connectivity world, even if his current airline is a late adopter of such services. Fornaro oversaw the fleet-wide deployment of connectivity at AirTran. He saw the value it could deliver and the pains that poor performance and limited availability caused for passengers and the airline. Now he wants to bring a new model to market and lead the connected ULCC revolution, starting with the Thales kit installed on his company's fleet. Will this secret sauce work?
After ten months of negotiations Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics unveiled a strategic partnership late last month. The news hit just prior to APEX EXPO, a major trade show where executives from both companies fielded questions. Answers were provided but uncertainty remains about exactly what the new partnership will deliver on some fronts.
It was called "Kiteline" and it was going to revolutionize the inflight passenger experience. A light weight connectivity solution with visions of delivering core functionality, the Kiteline concept is now being emulated by Lufthansa Systems, Iridium, AirFi, fflya and more. And, unlike Kiteline's failure nearly a decade ago, these solutions are now (finally) taking flight.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC) and Inmarsat are poised to reshape the inflight connectivity world with a landmark deal. The ten year strategic collaboration project will see PAC sell Inmarsat's Ka-band GX connectivity solution while Inmarsat bundles some of PAC's data analytics and services offerings into its sales efforts. Is this the consolidation the market so desperately craves?
Work on the first Spirit Airlines aircraft to receive its Thales-supplied inflight wifi connectivity hardware is underway. Installation efforts started this week at an MRO with Thales overseeing the work.
Chalk up another split fleet for inflight connectivity. The latest intelligence in to PaxEx.Aero suggests another A350 operator will add a new vendor to its IFC roster.