Otto Gergye, vice-president, Asia Pacific, Inmarsat (left) and Benyamin Ismail, chief executive officer, AirAsia X (right) at APEX EXPO. Image: Vance Walstra

AirAsia Group announced today that it has selected Inmarsat’s GX Aviation to provide airborne broadband. Covering 120 existing aircraft along with future additions to the fleet, the service will be operational in early 2018.

“Why we chose Inmarsat is because the name stands for itself. We believe that this is the right partner for us, long term,” Benyamin Ismail, AirAsia X CEO, told APEX Media at APEX EXPO in Long Beach today.

“We believe that this is the right partner for us, long term.” – Benyamin Ismail, AirAsia X CEO

Launched in May, Inmarsat’s I-5 F4 Ka-band satellite is now in operational testing in geostationary orbit (GEO), and all systems are functioning as expected, according to Frederik Van Essen, senior vice-president, Strategy and Business Development at Inmarsat.

This fourth satellite will add extra capacity to the GX Aviation constellation and is planned to be fully operational early next year, initially serving Europe and the Middle East.

Inmarsat S, the satellite component of the European Aviation Network, has also reached GEO and is in testing phase. The S-band bird will work in concert with Deutsche Telekom’s complementary ground component to provide connectivity over Europe.

Inmarsat has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA booster to launch the first of the Inmarsat I-6 series of dual-payload L-band and Ka-band satellites, in 2020.

The next-generation satellite, built by Airbus Defence and Space, will feature six steerable Ka-band beams, adding even more capacity to GX service. The I-6s L-band payload will replace services from older satellites that are reaching the end of operational life.

Howard has been passionate about aviation since he was a little kid, and is a pilot who loves to fly gliders and just about anything else with wings. He's a frequent contributor to aviation magazines and blogs.