Airlines today are competing to attract the new generation of travelers—after a significant hiatus from travel and a period of intensive data consumption. Well-established global carriers and smaller, regional, and emerging airlines alike are re-envisioning air travel with a renewed focus on the value of inflight connectivity (IFC). Simultaneously, travelers and businesses are also considering how important connectivity with the result that some are seeking the option to own and operate their own jets or use an Uber-like approach to business jet travel, all in the name of customized, highly connected experiences.

Airlines and IFC service providers recognize the significant market opportunity as passengers increasingly expect access and better service. NSR projects that 22,000 aircraft will be connected by 2025; passenger connectivity services are predicted to grow to $8.4B by 2025; and IFC will become a $38.8B 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.

  • ST Engineering iDirect, the market leader in satellite ground infrastructure across the mobility sector, has been in the business of delivering mobility solutions for more than 20 years.

    Our aero platforms and suite of advanced mobility technologies are enabling IFC networks for global and regional network operators and service providers on 44% of installed commercial tails and 32% of backlog. Our modems are onboard over 4000 commercial aircraft and business jets.

    Leveraging the ST Engineering iDirect aero platforms, airlines and service providers support passenger connectivity, crew communications, flight operations, and maintenance applications.

    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.

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

    The widebody airframe market was the first adopter of IFC. Regional airlines and narrowbody airframes represent a “greenfield” opportunity as the pace of our digital reliance increases.

    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 has quickly become an area of major growth for IFC as long as service is high quality and always available. Similar to the yachting market in the maritime world, quality of experience (QoE) 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 Platform

    ST Engineering iDirect’s proven aero platform our core infrastructure and a comprehensive portfolio of products, technologies and capabilities, known collectively as ‘advanced mobility’. This suite of solutions solves the challenges that exist in bringing connectivity to an aircraft and create a winning service and business result for the airline customer.

    Our aero platform offers choice and scalability to supply service providers with the technology necessary to meet the airlines’ varying requirements.

    Bandwidth Management

    Service providers use capacity from many beams and satellites to provide coverage for a fleet of aircraft. These distributed and complex networks could impact service consistency without proper bandwidth management. Bandwidth management selects and aggregates capacity. The resulting pool can be shared across aircraft, users and applications and it can be delineated by SLAs and other priorities to tailor for airline requirements.

    The importance of global bandwidth management will only increase as new NGSO constellations and next-generation GEO satellites come online creating a step increase in the dynamic nature for beams.

    Beam Switching and Reacquisition

    Modems onboard aircraft likely need to connect to multiple satellites and beams as they travel across airspace. This is known as beam-switching. It is essential to a seamless broadband experience. Beam switching and fast reacquisition keep signal interruptions imperceptible to passengers. Automatic beam switching that is built into the aero platform eliminates manual intervention as well as managing regulatory compliance.

    API-driven platform features allow service providers to create new roles and new operation methodologies that continue to allow them to differentiate, using the platform in different ways. The same goes for QoS management including options to allow customers to customize their beam switching algorithms. This high level of customization adds up to a unique offering and, by extension, unique value that service providers can add for users.

    Return Waveforms for Mobility

    Waveforms are a basic element of satellite service, however today waveform innovation is opening and expanding markets with more options to achieve the most optimal use of bandwidth. Truly advanced mobility will leverage our pioneering approach to waveforms to enable the very highest throughput rates, the highest network availability, and to automatically adjust or optimize the satellite capacity.

    Aero Modems Fit for Purpose

    Our modems are specifically optimized for aero requirements in form factor, environmental adaptivity, performance and reliability. Ready for the rigorous supplemental type certificate (STC) process, our aero modems are the most widely supported – part of a comprehensive ecosystem among aero terminal integrators, network operators, and service providers – providing airlines the shortest time to deployment.

    Customizable and Scalable

    Our aero platform gives network operators and service providers to flexibly and cohesively orchestrate capacity as they add more and more aircraft to keep up with airline demand. Equally important, they are able to incorporate their own sophisticated tools and management around our flexible system to enable a unique portfolio of services.

    Offering flexibility in the core network infrastructure allows airlines to reduce initial capex while staying nimble enough to scale up in line with demand. Modems offer software-defined architectures, allowing them to be continually upgraded over the air to increase network capabilities and throughput levels while dramatically extending the deployment life in the air.

    Antenna and Terminal Innovation

    We are 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.