In-flight Wi-Fi is becoming a common requirement for passengers when it comes to choosing who to fly with. That’s why the European Union pioneered the European Aviation Network, a hybrid-network built by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom in cooperation with Nokia to provide the backhaul for in-flight Wi-Fi for domestic flights within Europe.
International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways and Aer Lingus, is set to be the launch partner for the network, with Lufthansa also said to be keen. Inmarsat has today announced a further roll-out, however. With the business aviation market set to get in-flight Wi-Fi capabilities courtesy of the European Aviation Network as soon as January 2019.
Aviation is set to be an explosive growth opportunity for network installers, with both commercial airlines and private plane owners both looking at installing in-flight Wi-Fi. With the European Aviation Network set to go live in 2019 for business aviation, this will represent a great opportunity for UK network installers.
EAN is the world’s first inflight Wi-Fi solution that integrates connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and an LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom, covering all 28-member states of the European Union, as well as Switzerland and Norway.
The unique combination of a satellite and 4G LTE-based ground network offers super-fast, low latency performance over land and water. It can therefore meet highly demanding internet use, such as working with remote business desktops, streaming high-definition videos, enjoying online gaming and sharing images, with service levels that compare to mobile broadband on the ground.
Aircraft connect with the network using award-winning small, ultra-lightweight, low drag hardware that is cost-effective to install and operate, making EAN ideal for small to mid-sized business jets, in addition to larger sized jets.
The business aviation rollout follows EAN’s successful introduction in the commercial airline market, with a major launch customer already announced and installing the service on aircraft, plus ongoing discussions with other interested carriers across the continent.
Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, says: “EAN is a game-changer for the business aviation market, offering gold standard inflight wifi to a broad spectrum of aircraft, from small turboprops to larger platforms such as the Citations, Learjets and Phenoms. It really is ideal for any business jet whose mission keeps them predominantly in Europe.
“Our projections show that the European business aviation fleet will grow beyond 5,000 aircraft in the coming years. We expect a strong uptake for EAN by offering a variety of data plans to meet every budget. Work has already commenced with a large business aviation launch customer for the service and planning for our first STC is underway.”
EAN’s integrated satellite and ground network is fully operational, with a number of flight trials successfully completed across Europe, demonstrating that the next-generation service meets its design performance in practice. The evaluations were conducted with partners Cobham, Thales and Nokia using a CESSNA 550 Citation II provided by Dutch company NLR.
Designed to meet the needs of European’s congested skies, EAN recently won the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Award for ‘Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation’.