Blazing a trail for passenger connectivity


As we prepare for what should be a trail-blazing APEX Expo in Singapore next week, this is a timely moment to take stock of what has been accomplished and reflect on the massive opportunity ahead.

After more than five years of financial and technological investment GX for Aviation, the first seamless global broadband infrastructure for airlines from a single operator, is about to become reality. Following commercial service introduction of our Global Xpress (GX) network at the end of 2015, we have moved on from systems integration and testing, and are getting ready to go live over the coming weeks.

As we reach this milestone, we look back with pride at what has been achieved. GX for Aviation has brought with it a lot of expectation and we will deliver. Both current and potential airline customers have been very eager to try the system and some have actually been holding off from making connectivity decisions until they have seen GX for Aviation in action.

The feedback we have received from airline executives during recent tests has been overwhelmingly positive. Last month, we completed a hugely successful GXperience global flight tour with Honeywell, during which a significant number of airlines, partners and colleagues were given access to GX for Aviation in-flight.

The tour was truly international – covering 120 flight hours and 45,000 miles. Passengers put GX for Aviation through its paces on email, video calling, web-browsing and streaming, and it did not disappoint. The success of the tour helped to advance a significant number of discussions with airlines from around the world, both large and small.‎

I have been reflecting a lot recently that in this industry you are always at the forefront of something new and ground breaking. But what we are about to see is going to change air travel in ways we can barely imagine.

In some ways connectivity in the sky has not kept up with the pace on the ground. In fact, boarding an aircraft today, in terms of connectivity and passenger experience, is like stepping back in time! Those days are gone, and as a result of our innovators, our technicians and a number of terrific partnerships, we are part of an aviation revolution that is thrusting passenger experience deep into the 21st Century.

Today’s passenger is hungry for data and the challenge to meet this need is immense, but we are ready for it. The number of total passengers in the sky is set to double to seven billion by 2034, according to IATA, and airlines are competing to meet and surpass the expectations of increasingly sophisticated passengers who are demanding an in-flight experience that mirrors the convenience with which they live their daily lives. With GX for Aviation this is something we can now deliver.

There is a prize here for airlines too. High passenger expectations provide significant revenue opportunities. The discourse now is all about applying technology to maximise experience, whether that is providing in-flight shopping to be delivered to your home, enhancing In-flight Entertainment (IFE) or accessing passenger preferences to enhance their comfort. We are prepared for all of this.

In any industry, having the opportunity to achieve this kind of impact barely happens once in a lifetime. I can tell you that having been involved in the GX for Aviation project since its inception, seeing it all come together and witnessing senior airline executives use a system that your team has spent years developing is thrilling. Seeing that system go on-line with a new generation of paying passenger is going to be even more exciting.

To deliver this level of connectivity requires billions of dollars of investment and years of development. This is what GX for Aviation brings to the market. We wholly own our high quality, reliable network, and this gives us unrivalled, seamless global coverage, without the patchy connection issues that have plagued other solutions that are currently available.

We are now experiencing the next generation of connectivity and Inmarsat is not standing still in terms of exploring how that technology can be applied and how we provide connectivity in the future.

At APEX Expo, we will demonstrate that not only are we more than ready to deliver next generation in-flight passenger connectivity, but that we have the imagination to demonstrate how that connectivity can be leveraged.

We are living in exciting times. And GX for Aviation will at the forefront of this change.

If you are attending APEX Expo and would like to find out more about GX for Aviation, together with our other ground-breaking aviation connectivity solutions, please come and visit our stand at the event. We would be delighted to welcome you.

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.