Airlines are seeing record commercial passenger traffic and increasing their aircraft orders to meet demand. Smaller, regional airlines, emerging market airlines which have been slow to adopt inflight connectivity (IFC), and business jets also present a significant market opportunity as passengers increasingly expect access and better service.

NSR projects that 23,000 aircraft will be connected by 2025; passenger connectivity services are predicted to grow to $5.4B by 2025; and IFC will become a $36 billion market over the next decade. Airlines that can best leverage IFC will gain a strong business advantage in terms of customer loyalty, crew productivity, and company profitability.

Aeronautical Connectivity
  • ST Engineering iDirect, the aeronautical connectivity market leader, has been in the business of delivering mobility solutions for more than 20 years.

    Our platforms enable IFC networks for the top three global high-throughput satellite (HTS) operators and top service providers. We are serving more than 50% of the market today, based on more than 3,400 active aircraft.

    Our platform enables airlines and service providers to build IFC solutions that support passenger connectivity, crew communications, flight operations, and maintenance applications. We are committed to delivering advanced performance through key innovations, such as support for electronically steered antennas and 5G architectures. 

    The Service Provider Opportunity

    With nearly every major airline rolling out or considering some form of IFC, service providers must work with a flexible technology solution built to maximize value and minimize the total cost of ownership. Today, HTS are positioned to dramatically improve performance for the commercial airline market. However, aero VSAT network operators need to think beyond data rates on individual airplanes and plan how they source, integrate and manage a global pool of bandwidth to automatically allocate resources as they are needed.

    Service providers that can enable airlines to best leverage in-flight connectivity and gain a clear business advantage in terms of customer loyalty, crew productivity and company profitability will be at an advantage.

    Revenue models that can entice passengers is still one of the biggest IFC obstacles. While the retail business model is the most prominent, passengers have largely demonstrated that they do not want to pay for onboard Wi-Fi. Some airlines are experimenting with a hybrid model with success. Additional revenue opportunities exist for satellite operators and service providers to develop “big data” solutions for customers to control, analyze or improve existing business processes including aircraft telemetry, health monitoring, passenger applications, real-time navigation and traffic optimization.

  • Airlines around the world are striving to achieve the fully connected aircraft, spanning across cockpit, maintenance, passengers and crew. Passengers want high-quality, seamless and free IFC to power personal devices onboard. Operations requirements such as maintenance, crew communications and applications also require high-bandwidth IFC. 

    The widebody airframe market is traditionally a first adopter of IFC and an indicator of overall market trends. Smaller regional jets have not yet adopted IFC due to the need for a smaller for factor antenna. While regional airlines and narrowbody airframes are addressed with the existing antenna set representing a “greenfield” opportunity.

    Airlines that can best leverage IFC will gain a strong business advantage in terms of customer loyalty, crew productivity, and company profitability. The airline industry wants a solution that “just works” while meeting specific aero certifications and standards. 

    The market for business jets is cost conscious, yet willing to pay for service as long as it is high quality and always available. Similar to the yachting market in the maritime world, quality of service (QoS) expectations are much higher than on commercial passenger aircraft. Smaller business jets could eventually be customers of satcom via smaller form factor equipment.

  • Aero mobility management

    ST Engineering iDirect has proven mobility solutions optimized for high-throughput satellites (HTS) platforms plus system architecture for large-scale, multi-beam networks.

    Advanced QoS

    Our Advanced QoS maximizes the value of a shared bandwidth pool for traffic prioritization, bandwidth management, and better SLA management.

    Automated Beam Switching (ABS)

    Integrated mobility management technologies enable Automated Beam Switching (ABS) that automatically connects to satellite beams for make-before-break hand-offs without the need for manual intervention as an aircraft travels across multiple footprints while managing regulatory and service area rules.

    Fast reacquisition

    Re-establish the whole link quickly with fast reacquisition and minimal authentication steps.

    Flat-panel antennas

    ST Engineering iDirect is working with several flat-panel antenna manufacturers who are producing smaller, thinner and more aerodynamic antennas. Our waveform technology integrated with the system controls help mitigate common satellite interference and enable satellite transmission to fast moving aircraft, while maintaining a reliable and efficient link.