Editor’s comment: IFC swoops to conquer

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

To date, Iridium has completed six launches, all with SpaceX out of its west coast launch facility, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are currently planned with SpaceX and will deliver 75 new satellites to orbit. In total, 81 satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.

The Iridium NEXT constellation of interconnected low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites will pave the way for the new broadband service, Iridium Certus, as the in-flight connectivity sector heats up.

While Certus uses Iridium’s L-band spectrum, it is the Ka-band spotbeams of the EUTELSAT 3B satellite that has interest piqued, as Axinom becomes the latest player to sign up to Taqnia Space’s UON service – a complete aviation connectivity package which includes internet service, live TV streaming, and voice roaming service. Axinom introduced its smart traffic management technology enabling live TV at April’s AIX in Hamburg.

EUTELSAT 3B has been steered by Eutelsat to cover flight paths extending from London to Saudi Arabia and from Casablanca to Oman, as Saudi Arabian Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to connect to the platform later in the year.

Eutelsat, Jamco and SITAONAIR are the other collaborative parties to the UON project.

According to Abdullah Alosaimi, CEO of Taqnia Space company, “With UON, all airlines around the world will be able to offer their passengers high-throughput-connectivity services that are currently provided on a limited scale by a few airlines in North America.”

One such airline readying to offer in-flight Wi-Fi is the WestJet-backed Swoop, Canada’s first ultra-low-cost carrier. With a planned all Boeing 737-800 series fleet, IFC is just one of a number of amenities that includes in-seat power and in-flight entertainment.

If you’re visiting EBACE in Geneva next week, you can stay connected and entertained with us by visiting our Booth – L97. Loyal supporters of the event, we’re exhibiting for the first time this year, so please do drop by and say hello to the team.

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