Panasonic’s First XTS Satellite Goes Live Over Asia-Pacific

Panasonic Avionics has hit a major milestone for inflight connectivity as its first extreme high throughput satellite (XTS) satellite has gone live. The APSTAR-6D satellite is the latest enhancement to the company’s third-generation inflight connectivity network.

Panasonic XTS satellite
APSTAR-6D has entered service. Photo: Panasonic

APSTAR-6D goes live

Panasonic Avionics has this week announced a significant step forward in its inflight connectivity offerings. The supplier has entered its first extreme high throughput satellite (XTS) into service in the Asia-Pacific region.

The satellite, named APSTAR-6D, is a key element of its third-generation network (Gen-3), a Ku-band network supporting high bandwidth operations in flight. APSTAR-6D will cover a huge area, including the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Australia and the Southern Oceans down to Antarctica, which includes areas not served by any other HTS satellite.

The result will be a boost of some multiple gigahertz of new Ku-band capacity, in some of the most crowded skies in the world. The company specifically names the high-density routes around East Asia, including Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, which will be targeted by narrow XTS spot beams for faster, more reliable service.

inflight connectivity
The new capacity will bolster inflight connectivity in some of the busiest airspace in the world. Photo: Panasonic

Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, commented on the service entry of the APSTAR-6D satellite, saying,

“Today is a milestone moment for Panasonic Avionics as we go live with the newest generation of in-flight connectivity. Our third-generation communications network delivers the targeted, flexible use of extreme high throughput capacity, ensuring we can meet the needs of our airline customers with cost-effective and reliable high bandwidth services well into the future.”

Panasonic says that it is working to upgrade all 2,544 aircraft already fluing with its connectivity solution to the Gen-3 network, and expects to complete this over the next month. The company has commitments for more than 1,000 aircraft to be installed with Panasonic’s solution with Gen-3 capabilities from the outset.

Improved connectivity for more than 800 aircraft

Panasonic Avionics already has contracts in place with 21 airlines in the Asia region. The airlines signed up to benefit from the new XTS satellite boast a number of household names, including Air China, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Xiamen Airlines.

Cathay Pacific 777 over Hong Kong
Numerous leading Asian airlines are flying with Panasonic on board. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Together, their fleets number more than 800 individual aircraft. The additional coverage provided by the high throughput satellite will help boost capacity in the crowded airspace of this region. Jeff Sare, Vice President, In-Flight Connectivity Solutions at Panasonic Avionics further commented,

“Panasonic Avionics is committed to long term investment in its high bandwidth, global Ku-band network, and the service entry of APSTAR-6D is the latest step in that journey.

“We are planning further investment in our global network of Ku-band satellites for use by commercial airlines in the years ahead. For example, our second XTS, Eutelsat 10B, is due to launch next year and will provide enhanced connectivity over Europe and the Middle East. Additional capacity commitments are also planned.”

In December 2019, Panasonic also upped its offering for airlines in Europe, Africa and Middle East (EMENA), when it signed a multi-year deal with Eutelsat for a huge amount of capacity. The addition of APSTAR-6D to the portfolio of live payloads gives Panasonic a solid footing in connectivity worldwide.



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