Inmarsat completes first flight trials for European Aviation Network


Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom have successfully completed the first flight trials of the European Aviation Network (EAN) system, which mixes satellite and ground based communications systems.

By mixing ground and satellite signals together, the EAN system will provide reliable high-speed broadband connections for business jets, as well as airlines.

To complete the first successful flight, Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, in conjunction with its partners Cobham, Nokia and Thales, installed the system on a Cessna Citation II provided by Dutch Aerospace Research Center NLR.

The Citation flew a 5,000km route over Belgium, France, Germany and Spain, testing the integration of the Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminals. Inmarsat say that further trials are scheduled in the coming weeks.

“European airspace is one of the busiest in the world and passenger volumes are expected to double in the next 15 years, with an increasing number of people wanting to stream videos or send e-mails at the same time whilst in the air.” said Rolf Nafziger, senior vice president, international wholesale business at Deutsche Telekom. “A combined system that seamlessly integrates satellite connectivity with a complementary LTE-based network on the ground will create the much-needed additional capacity to meet demand now and in the future.”

The full system rollout is expected to take place in the first half of 2018.

“These flight trials, together with the recent news that Ofcom in the UK is the latest European regulator to authorise the ground-based stations as part of the EAN, moves the project a step closer to commencing commercial service with our launch customer, which we expect to take place in the first half of 2018.” Philip Balaam, president, Inmarsat Aviation. “This will be a game-changer for the airline market, offering passengers a new gold standard in resilient and scalable inflight broadband, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance.”