- Laurence Russell
Inmarsat, Honeywell launch world’s fastest L-band inflight connectivity service for aviation
Inmarsat and Honeywell are setting a new benchmark in satellite communications with the launch of SwiftJet, their latest inflight connectivity service for the business aviation industry. It will enter commercial service in the first half of 2023 and deliver the fastest ever speeds over L-band.
As one of the first new services to be introduced on Inmarsat’s ELERA satellite network, SwiftJet will offer seamless global coverage across flight routes with maximum speeds of 2.6Mbps, up to six times faster than Inmarsat’s existing business aviation connectivity solution over L-band. This will allow passengers to create a secure ‘office in the sky’ with enhanced capabilities for video calls, web browsing, email, texting, cloud-syncing and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams. Social media and video applications such as TikTok and YouTube, which were previously challenging over L-band, will also be enabled.
As the latest addition to Inmarsat’s market-leading portfolio of business aviation inflight connectivity services, SwiftJet will be available alongside Jet ConneX (JX) and SwiftBroadband (SBB), which have been activated on thousands of jets worldwide. JX is the most popular and widely-adopted premium, high-speed solution available today, powered by a global constellation of Ka-band satellites. Additionally, SBB offers speeds of 432Kbps over L-band using smaller antennas that are suitable as a secondary system to JX or as primary connectivity for smaller or older aircraft.
SwiftJet uses advanced hardware from Inmarsat’s partner Honeywell, which can be equipped on a broad range of aircraft and also supports cockpit and safety services. Existing customers of Inmarsat’s SBB service will benefit from a natural upgrade path without needing to replace any externally-mounted aircraft equipment, while new customers will experience the same ease of installation as with any Inmarsat L-band terminal. The service also creates new opportunities in the smaller jet market, which have previously been restricted to basic voice or text connectivity that fails to meet the needs of modern day travellers. It is available to pre-order through Honeywell, with additional incentives in an early adopter campaign.
Inmarsat is launching the ground-breaking service at a critical time for the business aviation industry. Following a period of turbulence over the past two years due to the global pandemic, a recent survey 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. Furthermore, a staggering 90% feel that online activities will dominate the principals’ time in the air, split between business and leisure.
Kai Tang, Inmarsat’s Head of Business Aviation, said: “Inmarsat prides itself on delivering services that meet the unique and fast-evolving requirements of our customers. As the market leader in business aviation connectivity, Inmarsat developed SwiftJet in response to customer and partner feedback for a faster, more advanced L-band offering. They essentially asked us to amplify L-band capabilities without losing its trademark characteristics of resilience, reliability and availability.
“I am proud to say that SwiftJet delivers all of this and more, unlocking exciting new capabilities in the aircraft cabin and allowing users to connect more devices, and enjoy faster connectivity speeds, whenever and wherever they fly. It comes at a time when business aviation travel is not only returning to pre-pandemic levels, but also experiencing unprecedented demand for inflight connectivity.”
Adam Sheppard, Honeywell Aerospace’s Director of Aircraft Connectivity, said: “SwiftJet represents the latest leap forward for inflight connectivity, combining Inmarsat’s commercial satellite capabilities and Honeywell’s connected aircraft expertise to provide scalable, high-speed satellite communications to passengers at 40,000 feet. With Inmarsat we have created a straightforward upgrade path for SwiftBroadband customers, giving them easy access to unprecedented internet speeds over L-band without having to change wiring or antenna hardware.”
Inmarsat’s ELERA global satellite network delivers the world’s most reliable and flexible global connectivity, with full redundancy and unique resilience in all conditions. ELERA capabilities are being further enhanced with the addition of two Inmarsat-6 satellites, the largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, both of which are scheduled to enter service next year and will support SwiftJet through the 2030s, reinforcing the service’s long-term value. The L-band capacity on each I-6 satellite will be substantially greater than Inmarsat’s 4th generation spacecraft, delivering 50% more capacity per beam in addition to unlimited beam routing flexibility.
The I-6 series of satellites will also play a crucial role in the ongoing growth of Inmarsat’s unique ORCHESTRA dynamic mesh network, which will bring existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites together with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G to form an integrated, high-performance solution, unmatched by any existing or planned competitor offering.