Chapter 11 is disappearing quickly from the rear view mirror. Satellite launches resumed and the constellation continues to grow. And earlier this month a new deal regarding an in-flight connectivity terminal and antenna solution helped buoy the company’s position further. To say that OneWeb is on a roll lately might be a massive understatement.
If we gauge interest by the amount of people who want to talk and work with us, it’s phenomenal.– Ben Griffin, OneWeb’s VP Mobility
New IFC Terminal with JetTalk
The planned terminal and antenna for aviation purposes is a significant milestone for the company. Developed by JetTalk, a joint venture between SatixFy UK and Singapore Technology Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), the goal is a commercialized offering “suitable for all aviation applications” according to Ben Griffin, OneWeb’s VP Mobility.
And, while no one is particularly happy with the year-long delay delivered by bankruptcy and worsened by the pandemic, Griffin sees some optimism in both the timing and the market overall. “The electronically steered array stuff has come on during the last year or so which is significantly better suited to LEO operations. And, equally, the level of readiness and anticipation in the aviation industry continues to build.”
BizAv or Commercial??
The market today generally shows a bright line split between commercial aircraft and business aviation products. Even where the satellite systems are common (e.g. Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation for commercial or Jet ConnecX for BizAv) the antenna and terminal can vary, a necessity given the different aircraft sizes involved. The modular nature of most Electronically Steered Antenna (ESA) solutions allows for an additive performance growth rather than complete redesign of the kit. That should benefit the ESA developers, including JetTalk, as they try to deliver to both sides of the market.
And even as the business aviation market is recovering more quickly than commercial, Griffin sees “equal anticipation in both markets” for the OneWeb solution.
On the business aviation front he’s keen on “growth in the smaller jets” getting connected. Again, the smaller, conformal shaped ESAs help significantly on that front.
But commercial aviation appears to be waking from its COVID-induced slumber, also creating demand. That segment looks to be planning for the 2023-2025 horizon at the earliest.
Griffin sees that as a positive, given the timing of the OneWeb constellation, “When we do finally get a full constellation by the end of next year and then get into Aviation Services shortly after that, I think the timing is beautiful. I think it works really well. Airlines will be in recovery mode at that stage, building up nicely.”
A shifting sense of risk
Why would a LEO operator be talking up the value of GEO constellations? Turns out convincing an airline to invest in a new platform or service provider is rarely easy. Doing so with a new satellite constellation and a company just out of bankruptcy adds to the challenges. Griffin is confident, however, that OneWeb’s approach to the market can assuage many of those concerns while still highlighting the value proposition of the LEO satellite constellation.
There’s more to the story…Dig deeper with a PaxEx.Aero Premium Subscription
- OneWeb shrinks constellation plans, expands funding
- OneWeb emerges from bankruptcy, ready to launch
- OneWeb plans faster inflight connectivity network
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