OneWeb uses a Boeing 777 to test inflight connectivity

OneWeb uses a Boeing 777 to test inflight connectivity

Business travelers’ needs shaped the development of in-flight connectivity, which first gained traction in commercial aviation. Passengers enjoyed listening to the jumbled real-time cockpit radio communications in the 1980s; early moving maps on TV screens offered them a sense of position in the immensity of the sky. Technically, these in-flight communications were the consequence of connectivity because they required data to be sent from the ground to the aircraft. However, they were not interactive and did not provide passengers with real-time functionality. By the time Gogo, initially known as AirCell, was founded in 1991, the future of connection was already clear. It didn’t seem so absurd after all to try to balance business performance in the air with what passengers experienced on the ground.

OneWeb announced on June 14 that it used its low-Earth orbit network to successfully test high-speed capabilities on a commercial airplane last month. OneWeb reports that on May 27, a Boeing B777-200LR that departed from a commercial airport in Texas showcased online virtual reality gaming, video streaming, and other low-latency features.

The British start-up claimed that an electronically guided antenna on the airplane achieved download and upload speeds of 260 and 80 Mbps (megabits per second), respectively. OneWeb stated that this performance, which was obtained under test conditions, is not indicative of the commercial services it intends to provide.

According to the business, the testing verified the terminal’s integration of the aircraft and exhibited dependable connectivity during taxi, takeoff, landing, and other usual flying maneuvers. After leaving Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the aircraft flew for just over an hour.

The Sidewinder terminal platform, which uses electronically guided array technology from Ball Aerospace, was given by aircraft equipment integration expert Stellar Blu Solutions. In 2022, additional Sidewinder flying tests are planned.

The businesses want to certify the platform and make it accessible for the commercial aviation sector in the middle of 2023, including wide-body airliners and regional jets. As it prepares to resume satellite installations this year, OneWeb is now only covering the highest regions of the northern hemisphere with 66 percent of its intended 648 satellites in LEO. In March, the operator had to halt its launch campaign because of the sanctions brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gogo, a U.S.-based provider of in-flight connectivity, disclosed plans to utilize a smaller, electronically-steered Hughes antenna to link lighter business planes to OneWeb satellites last month. “Both [antennas] leverage best-in-class technologies from top industry partners, reaffirming our approach to designing and delivering a viable, credible, and certifiable service for the aviation sector by the aviation industry,” said Nick Maynard, a spokesperson for OneWeb.

In 2024, according to OneWeb, commercial airplanes will be able to connect. On various-sized planes, SpaceX has been testing its Starlink LEO broadband constellation. It has been agreed that JSX, a provider of jet services, will be the first airline to offer Starlink this year. In 2023, the larger commercial airline Hawaiian Airlines plans to offer Starlink to its customers.

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