British Airways Completes Rollout Of ‘World Leading’ Inflight Internet

The European Aviation Network (EAN) rollout has been completed on the British Airways short-haul fleet. This has seen its entire Airbus narrowbody fleet equipped with Inmarsat’s EAN technology. As well as this, Inmarsat has been named the ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’ for the fourth year in a row at the World Travel Awards 2020.

British Airways Airbus A320neo
British Airways has completed the installation of Inmarsat’s equipment on all its short-haul aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

British Airways rollout complete

Inmarsat’s unique inflight connectivity network for Europe, the European Aviation Network, has reached a new milestone this week. Launch customer British Airways has confirmed it has completed the rollout of the system on all its short-haul fleet.

The EAN began a soft rollout in March 2019 with IAG. Specifically, this included installation and activation on British Airways’ Airbus narrowbody aircraft. Following this, more aircraft and airlines in the IAG family were equipped, including Vueling, making it the first low-cost airline to offer WiFi connectivity.

EAN terminal
A small belly antenna signifies connection to the EAN. Photo: Inmarsat

The service relies on terrestrial connectivity provided by Deutsche Telecom, backed up by a mobile satellite service. The system was designed from the ground up to cope with the unique challenges of Europe. Dense airspace populated by busy hubs is a challenge for maintaining high-speed connections, but it’s a nut Inmarsat was keen to crack.

Speaking to Simple Flying in 2019, Dominic Walters, Vice President at Inmarsat Aviation, explained the goals of the network, saying,

“EAN is an immensely bold vision for Europe. We’ve really delivered in conjunction with our partner Deutsche Telekom one of the most innovative inflight connectivity solutions. It combines satellite and ground systems to deliver the fastest connectivity. It enables us to scale quickly as and when necessary.”

EAN top antenna
The terrestrial connection is supported with a rooftop antenna that connects to Inmarsat’s S-band satellite. Photo: Inmarsat

Last May, Inmarsat announced a capacity upgrade for the network, increasing peak data rates by around 30-35%. Users can now expect download speeds of around 100Mbps on equipped aircraft.

With the news of the BA rollout complete, Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said,

“EAN has transformed the inflight broadband market in Europe, offering unprecedented performance that has been truly embraced by airlines and their passengers. Usage has consistently increased since it entered commercial service and EAN experienced record data traffic in the summer and autumn months last year, reflecting an even stronger desire to stay connected amongst passengers flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An important factor in crossing more than 250 aircraft activations, including British Airways’ entire short-haul fleet, has been the record-breaking installation time we have achieved with EAN – less than nine hours per aircraft. This will ensure a smooth rollout on remaining IAG aircraft and we’re excited that even more passengers will soon have access to the industry’s best-in-class inflight connectivity, providing the same quality of broadband that people expect on the ground, from the comfort of their cabin.”

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Inmarsat is the world’s leading service provider

With EAN set to take off on more airlines, Inmarsat’s customers can be confident they are in good hands. The company was named the ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’ for the fourth year in a row at the World Travel Awards 2020.

The accolade is a reflection of Inmarsat’s market-leading GX-Aviation network, as well as the EAN solution. Customers using the Inmarsat service include Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Iberia, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia and Virgin Atlantic.

Inmarsat further improved its world-leading GX network with the launch of GX5. Photo: Inmarsat

Speaking about the award, Balaam commented,

“Last year was particularly challenging for the aviation industry, which faced its biggest crisis to date as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In response, we have been working closer than ever with our airline customers, both old and new, to support their evolving needs as they navigate through the storm and head towards a future recovery.

“It is uplifting, therefore, to receive an award where the industry itself helped to determine the winner. This accolade reinforces our position as the global market leader and is dedicated to our talented employees and partners for their continued hard work and dedication over the past year, even in the toughest of circumstances.”

Over the course of 2020, Inmarsat achieved a number of milestones across its business. These included the launch of its game-changing GX5 satellite, adding huge amounts of capacity to the GX network, as well as the launch of GX+ North America in partnership with Hughes.


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