Airbus Introduces Agnostic Antenna For Inflight Connectivity

Airbus AirSpace Link diagram
Credit: Airbus

HAMBURG—Airbus is launching Airspace Link HBCplus, a broadband connectivity solution using common hardware for a selection of service providers.

Safran was chosen as the terminal provider and antenna integrator. It will use ThinKom’s VICTS phased-array technology, targeted for Ka-band. The solution is being made available on every Airbus aircraft, with entry into service expected in 2024.

In the future, Airbus plans to extend HBCplus to Ku-band.

Inmarsat is the first managed service provider Airbus has picked. It will offer its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution. Additional MSPs will join the HBCplus offering later, Airbus says.

“We are part of the next evolution in the inflight connectivity industry by providing the technology for airlines to select the connectivity services most suited to their needs,” says Matt Smith, Safran Passenger Innovations’ CEO. HBCplus is supplier-furnished equipment, available as a line-fit and retrofit option on all Airbus programs.

The airframer is counting on its Airspace Link ecosystem to open the door to applications developed by third parties. Typically, life vests may be equipped with radiofrequency identification tags that would enable the crew to quickly check all are on board.

The exchange of data, especially in the internet-of-things category, may enable digital services that have yet to be imagined, according to Andre Schneider, Airbus VP of cabin and cargo programs.

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.