in Aerospace

Airbus flight tests new standard HBC on an A330

Posted 25 October 2016 · Add Comment

Airbus has successfully flight-tested on an A330 development aircraft its new standard High-Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) on-board architecture.

This is the industry’s first such platform to be flight demonstrated that will soon allow airline customers to choose from the range of new high-throughput satellite technologies such as Ka-Band, SwiftBroadband (L-Band) and Ku-Band, and be able to do so independently from airlines' choices of IFE supplier (ie. Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii), Panasonic, Thales, and Rockwell Collins). In turn, this means that passengers and crews on Airbus aircraft can be just as ‘connected’ in the air throughout their entire flight, as they are on the ground. The new HBC platform will be rolled-out from mid-2017 onwards and will rapidly become available across Airbus aircraft families.

For this initial flight-test, Airbus’ HBC platform was demonstrated together with the new HBC offering from Zii – which is based around Inmarsat’s new “Global Xpress” Ka-Band satellite network and can offer continuous worldwide high bandwidth coverage for commercial aircraft.

Panasonic Avionics Corporation was Airbus’ most recently selected as a supplier for HBC line-fit solutions (across all A320, A330 and A380 product families) which are compatible with Airbus’ new HBC architecture. The selection of Panasonic – whose system uses the Ku-Band – follows HBC supplier selections including Zii, Thales, and Rockwell Collins.

Airbus’ HBC development today encompasses A320/A330/A380 solutions from the four selected HBC lead suppliers mentioned above, both for line-fit and in retrofit. Moreover, since the ‘digital-native’ connected A350 XWB entered service, this latest HBC milestone not only opens-up new connectivity horizons for the passengers’ on-board experience, but also for the airlines who will benefit from the digital transformation of Airbus’ flight operations products & services.

Airbus is introducing in-service retrofits of state-of-the-art “high-bandwidth connectivity” (HBC) solutions for its airline customers. Most recently Finnair and Iberia selected Airbus to equip their single-aisle and widebody fleets. These selections build on Airbus’ previous achievement with a major American airline to facilitate cost-effective high bandwidth broadband internet on-board. With Airbus’ latest ‘retrofit-only’ solution it now offers an enlarged choice of satellite constellations encompassing L-Band, Ka-band and Ku-band systems. This means that airlines will be able to offer the best high-speed wireless internet networks for a fully-connected in-flight passenger experience aboard Airbus single-aisle and widebody families, including the A350 and A380.

The engineering, installation and certification of these connectivity retrofits are being developed with the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) – which is co-located next to the Toulouse aircraft Final Assembly Lines and Engineering Design offices. ACJC’s expertise in customized cabin and systems upgrades and the fact that it holds full Airbus’ “Design Organization Approval” (DOA) authority, assures that these modifications comply fully with Airbus’ quality, performance, and aircraft architecture requirements.

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