Bombardier is launching Honeywell’s new JetWave Ka-Band satellite connectivity system on its Global line, giving operators of those aircraft access to global Internet service at notably faster connections speeds.

The JetWave hardware supports Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX satellite communication service (Jet Connex is the branding for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation service). Honeywell and Bombardier have teamed to begin certification of the JetWave systems, including a tail-mount antenna and the avionics boxes, on Global aircraft. The design work for a supplemental type certification (STC) is beginning and plans call to ship initial hardware in the first half of 2015. Executives hope to wrap up the STC aboard the first Global aircraft, the 5000s and 6000s, next year in time to make JetWave-equipped aircraft available to customers in 2016.

Inmarsat in 2012 named Honeywell its exclusive hardware provider for the Global Xpress (GX) satellite system and then expanded that deal to become the "master distributor" of GX Aviation services for business aviation. Honeywell has since signed on a number of direct providers, which will package and sell the services.

Inmarsat late last year launched the first satellite for the GX constellation and expects to launch the next two by year’s end. The service is already live in Europe on a trial basis with certain operators. The organization hopes to have the entire constellation in place in 2015, clearing the way for seamless global coverage of the Ka-Band service.

"Global connectivity for aircraft has been pretty spotty," says Jack Jacobs, vice president of marketing for Honeywell Aerospace. "This is the first seamless high-speed inflight connectivity." Global Internet coverage is currently available, but it isn’t seamless between regions and may require multiple systems. The transitions can become frustrating to customers, Jacobs notes.

Bombardier is first turning to the Global line of aircraft based on their mission profiles, says Brad Nolan, director of product planning for Bombardier Business Aircraft. The aircraft fly longer ranges internationally and their customers want global coverage.

Nolan notes Internet service has become increasingly important, with virtually every aircraft coming out of the factory now equipped with some sort of hardware to accommodate it.

Bombardier and Honeywell plan to develop both forward and retrofit options for the Global 5000 and 6000 first, and then the 7000 and 8000 as development on those aircraft continues. The announcement complements the company’s recent rollout of its new Global 7000 cabin design, Nolan says. While attention is first turning to the Globals, Nolan adds the company is also considering options for the systems for the Challenger and Learjet lines in the future.

Internet connectivity packages and pricing have not yet been developed, but customers likely will work with Honeywell’s director providers for the Internet service.

Nolan calls the service "a real step change not only in data rates but also in global coverage ... at speeds unlike available today." The Jet Connex system will provide speeds enabling passengers to take part in high-definition video conferencing or to stream large files, Nolan says, noting functions such as Netflix or using FaceTime will become more usable.

"With JetWave securing the backing of a leading business jet manufacturer in Bombardier, we celebrate a major milestone in the evolution of business aircraft connectivity," says Brian Sill, president of Honeywell Aerospace Business and General Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace.

Jacobs notes that there is considerable interest in the system, and potential customers want the technology as soon as possible. "We’re being asked by everybody to go faster. We are trying to speed things up," he says.

Services such as the GX Ka-Band will become increasingly important with the prevalence of portable devices, Jacobs adds. An estimated 10 billion smartphones are expected to be "on the planet" by 2016, but the population is only at about 7.3 billion. The increasing demand for connectivity "is not going to change," Jacobs says.