Inmarsat’s GX5 satellite enters commercial service


Inmarsat’s most advanced satellite to date, GX5, has entered commercial service, providing “unprecedented” capacity to Europe and Middle East as part of the firm’s Global Xpress (GX) network.

GX5 delivers approximately twice the capacity of the entire existing GX satellite fleet (GX1-GX4) combined. The new satellite now delivers layered capacity and network redundancy over Europe and the Middle East, one of the world’s busiest travel corridors, that the existing fleet could not previously provide.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX Aviation and Jet ConneX [JX] are firmly established as the world’s leading inflight connectivity solutions and we have now embarked on a major, fully-funded development programme to ensure they remain at the very forefront of this industry.”

GX Aviation customers set to benefit from the regional capacity boost include leading airlines such as Qatar Airways, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Air France, SAS and Singapore Airlines, alongside more than 800 business jets enabled with JX inflight Wi-Fi.

In a recent study, Inmarsat’s Passenger Confidence Tracker revealed that the pandemic has heightened demand for inflight connectivity. Inmarsat reported 39% of commercial airline passengers globally say onboard Wi-Fi is more important to them since the pandemic.

The confidence tracker also indicated growing demand for connected services that reduce interaction and increase passenger autonomy. Inflight contactless payments, real time destination alerts and inflight immigration clearance were all cited as being effective ways to boost passenger confidence in light of Covid-19.

Balaam continued: “We are delighted to take the next step in this ambitious roadmap with GX5’s entry into commercial service. This is our most powerful satellite to date, delivering more capacity over Europe and the Middle East than the four existing GX satellites combined. In addition to transforming the quality of aviation connectivity today, it will ensure that our customers remain at the cutting-edge of technology innovation as their needs evolve and air traffic recovers in 2021 and beyond.”

The satellite’s orbital position, at 11° east, provides an optimal position for European connectivity services, said Inmarsat. GX5 has been designed specifically for regional demand and air traffic patterns over Europe and the Middle East’s busiest airspaces.

It will provide connectivity services to existing GX terminals, whilst also providing “a step change” in connectivity for terminals being introduced in the near future.

After 40 years in the connectivity sector, GX5 is the 14th satellite currently in service with Inmarsat. The firm plans seven further launches by 2024: five in geostationary orbit – adding speed, capacity and resilience – and two in highly elliptical orbit, which will enable the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service in the Arctic.