The newest Emirates aircraft will fly with Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation inflight internet solution on board. The incoming fleet of Airbus A350s will offer the high speed WiFi solution across all 50 aircraft, with deliveries expected to begin in 2024.
We are delighted that Emirates has joined the GX Aviation family. This will be the first fleet with Emirates to be equipped with our highly advanced GX Aviation solution.– William Huot-Marchand, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Connectivity
Emirates’ selection of GX for the fleet opens up new connectivity opportunities, particularly in the polar regions. Inmarsat’s Ka-band constellation includes five active payloads today, including the GX-5 satellite with significant capacity over the Middle East and key air traffic corridors to Europe and eastern Asia. That network will expand with another seven Ka-band payloads slated to enter service over the next few years.
The first I-6 satellite recently reached its orbital slot over Asia while the second I-6 is slated for launch early in 2023. Both satellites are expected to enter service this year. Three more geostationary satellites will soon join the constellation, as will a pair of payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO).
The HEO payloads will allow the aircraft to remain online as they fly polar routes, critical to the carrier’s service between North America and its Dubai hub. Today those aircraft drop offline at higher latitudes.
And this deal was implied as far back as 2019, when Emirates touted its ability to keep passengers connected “even when flying 40,000 feet over the North Pole and Arctic Circle.” The HEO satellites are a critical component of that offering.
“Delivering a world-class onboard experience has always been paramount to Emirates and we understand the importance of being connected during flights,” explains Adel al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer. “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.”
The A350s will be the first Emirates aircraft to fly with the GX solution on board, but they are not the first expected to be fitted. The two companies announced plans for the 777X fleet to fly with GX in 2017, back when those planes were expected to enter service in 2020. Thanks to delays from Boeing, however, the A350s are now expected in the Emirates fleet before the 777X.
Also similar to the announced 777X plans, the Emirates A350s will fly with the Thales AVANT IFE kit on board.
While not stated in the release, odds favor the Stellar Blu (formerly GDC Technics) offering, including ThinKom‘s Ka2517 antenna solution for this implementation. A query to Inmarsat remains open at the time of publication.
Emirates selected Safran as the terminal provider, including ThinKom‘s Ka2517 antenna solution for its A350s.
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