Around the World in 38 Days

05 September 2016

Leo Mondale

  • aviation

  • global-xpress

It has been a whirlwind of a summer for the Inmarsat Aviation team as we’ve just wrapped up a highly successful global flight tour for GX Aviation with our partner Honeywell.

Starting on 15 July, Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft crisscrossed the globe on an itinerary that took in locations across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. We named it the GXperience tour.

The 38 day tour logged some 45,000 nautical miles and allowed us to complete system integration and fine-tuning in preparation for a momentous occasion later this year when we launch GX Aviation. It was highly gratifying on many levels and I’m happy to report that the tour confirmed everything we promised – we are now ready to deliver a reliable, consistent, high-speed and transformational Wi-Fi experience to airlines and their passengers.

As we flew around the world testing and refining our systems, we also invited senior executives from leading airlines to experience GX Aviation firsthand. Once the aircraft reached cruising altitudes above 10,000 feet, our guests streamed videos, browsed their favourite websites, checked social media and emails, and most popular of all, video-called their friends, family and colleagues around the world on a range of devices.

The atmosphere onboard the aircraft was electric and we were delighted with the feedback received at every stop along the way. Whether it was São Paulo (“Exceeded expectations”), Chicago (“This trip was worth it!”), Amsterdam (“The YouTube video came right up. The quality was very good. As good as it is at home”) or any of the other locations in the tour, the reviews were uniformly positive and everyone seems in agreement that this is a game-changer for the industry.

In Sydney, we had the pleasure of welcoming Inmarsat Chairman Andy Sukawaty aboard the Honeywell test aircraft. Having just come from Macau via Darwin, the B757 took off from Sydney Airport and flew across the Tasman Sea to test the in-flight Wi-Fi over both land and ocean. Since Andy was one of the first to embrace this vision, it was great to provide him with a personal opportunity to see GX Aviation in action after many years of hard work.

As a critical test of our readiness to launch commercial service, the GXperience tour has been rewarding on many levels, with the airlines and our partners both responding favorably. It represents the culmination of more than five years and significant investment in developing GX Aviation.

I would also like to thank Honeywell for a great partnership and making this tour a huge success. We are delighted with the performance of their exclusive JetWave terminals (recently certified!) and look forward to opening the door to a new era of in-flight broadband connectivity.

About the author

Leo Mondale joined Inmarsat in 2004 as Vice President of Business Development and Strategy. He now serves as President of the Inmarsat Aviation business unit, and is based in Nyon, Switzerland.

In his time with the company, Leo has also founded and led the Growth Management and Support division, which included responsibility for product and service development, programme management, the development of the Global Xpress programme, and overseeing the establishment of commercial aviation as a specific line of Inmarsat business.

Prior to joining Inmarsat, Leo held a variety of senior positions in the satellite and aerospace industries, including at Iridium, Inc. where he was ultimately Chief Financial Officer. He has also served as a partner in Thaler Associates, as Chief Executive Officer of @contact, LLC, and as President of Arianespace Inc.

Leo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and was awarded a Juris Doctor degree from The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

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