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Inmarsat and Satcom Direct's new terminal for Jet Connex inflight broadband enters development phase

An advanced new terminal for Inmarsat’s market-leading business aviation inflight broadband solution Jet ConneX, developed by Satcom Direct (SD), has moved a step closer to commercial service after successfully communicating over the air with an Inmarsat satellite. A complete prototype unit of the ground-breaking Plane Simple Ka-band Antenna System is scheduled for completion later this year, followed by design verification, testing, certification and its commercial service introduction in 2023.

Designed specifically to meet current and long-term connectivity needs in the business aviation market, the new Plane Simple Ka-band Antenna System optimises inflight Wi-Fi, particularly for super-mid to large-size jets, using Inmarsat’s current and upcoming Ka-band satellites. It offers a unique alternative to existing terminals used on private jets, with key features including a modern lightweight design with only two line-replaceable units and simplified wiring to enable quicker and easier installation and maintenance.

The tail-mounted terminal will utilise the vast combined experience and expertise of Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, and SD, the aviation solutions provider, in business aviation connectivity. Both companies worked closely throughout the development process, from designing the concept to producing a simple, cost-effective and future proof solution.

Kai Tang, Inmarsat’s Head of Business Aviation, said: “Since its commercial launch five years ago, Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX has established itself as business aviation’s gold standard inflight connectivity service. Satcom Direct has played a key role in that journey and through the development of this advanced new terminal, we are building on our partnership to ensure customers can utilise the world-class infrastructure we have in place today and the game-changing new capabilities we will introduce in the coming years. This includes the launch of six further satellites, consisting of four in geostationary orbit - adding speed, capacity and resilience - and two in highly elliptical orbit, enabling the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.”

Jim Jensen, Satcom Direct’s Founder and CEO, said: “Moving to the next phase of development with our new Plane Simple Ka-band Antenna System for Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX – and being one step closer to securing type approval for use on the Inmarsat satellite network – is a huge step forward for our business and for business aviation. Building on our years of experience in hardware, software, infrastructure and data synchronisation, we are committed to delivering the market’s best-in-class aviation connectivity experiences. Customers will also benefit from direct support and troubleshooting from a dedicated team at SD without the need to deal with multiple companies, helping to improve their overall experience.”

The development milestone was unveiled at SD’s Connecting with Customers (CwC) 2022 conference in Orlando today, where the company is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of its successful partnership with Inmarsat. The event takes place as the business aviation industry continues its rebound following a period of turbulence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey commissioned by Inmarsat and Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) found that almost 80% of respondents around the world believe more frequent business aviation flights will be taken in the next year. A staggering 90% also feel online activities will dominate principals’ time in the air, almost evenly split between business and leisure.

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