Gogo Business Aviation, OneWeb Announce Satellite Broadband Offering

OneWeb
A OneWeb low-Earth-orbit communications satellite.
Credit: OneWeb

GENEVA—Gogo Business Aviation plans to launch a global broadband service for business aviation connecting to the new low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation under construction by OneWeb.

The new inflight broadband service will access OneWeb’s constellation using a new electronically steered antenna (ESA) that Gogo has designed in conjunction with Hughes Network Systems, which is itself an investor in OneWeb. The antenna assembly will be small enough to install on business aircraft ranging from light jets and large turboprops to ultra-long-range large cabin jets, Gogo announced May 22 at EBACE.

“The world has been waiting for a high-performance, cost-effective, flat-panel antenna solution to realize the global, high-speed, low-latency promise of LEO satellite broadband—and Hughes has delivered,” said Reza Rasoulian, Hughes vice president. “Gogo’s selection of the Hughes ESA solution affirms our engineering excellence and unlocks the value of OneWeb’s global capacity for high-speed, inflight broadband anywhere on the planet.”

Gogo customers with existing Avance L3 or L5 air-to-ground connectivity systems will need one Avance line-replaceable unit inside the aircraft to access the Ku-band satellite service, benefitting from Avance’s “multi-bearer” network capability. A LEO service shipset will include one fuselage-mounted unit with an integrated antenna, modem, power supply and RF converter, requiring 28 volts of DC power, and will include one Avance router, Gogo said.

“This will be a fast and affordable broadband system that will provide best-in-class global performance on the broadest range of aircraft in business aviation,” said Sergio Aguirre, Gogo Business Aviation president and chief operating officer. “We want to give everyone in business aviation the ability to have an exceptional broadband experience regardless of where or what size aircraft they fly.”

Users will be able to conduct “multiple simultaneous uninterrupted live video conferences,” access cloud platforms such as Office 365, watch live TV or use streaming video applications, among other activities, Gogo said.

“Our agreement with Gogo Business Aviation represents a leap forward for business aviation connectivity,” said Ben Griffin, OneWeb vice president for Mobility. “By harnessing the power of our LEO constellation to deliver robust, consistent, and reliable global coverage, OneWeb and Gogo will be able to offer an unmatched experience to business jet operators and passengers worldwide.”

London-based OneWeb is constructing a 648-member LEO satellite constellation, with plans to offer commercial broadband services. The company originally planned to complete the constellation by 2022; as of this spring, it had placed 428, or 66%, of its operational satellites into orbit.

Trade sanctions enacted after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, forced OneWeb to switch from using Russian Soyuz rockets as the launch vehicle to the SpaceX Falcon 9, an agreement the satellite company announced in March. Elon Musk-owned SpaceX is building its own LEO broadband constellation called Starlink, targeting the consumer market. Though an indirect competitor of OneWeb, which is focused on the business and government markets, SpaceX will deliver OneWeb satellites into orbit from Florida.

In April, OneWeb announced another launch contract with New Space India, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, to deliver satellites into space from the barrier island of Sriharikota, India.

Separately, on May 10, OneWeb announced three new executive appointments, including naming Jason Sperry as director of business aviation, based in Melbourne, Florida. Sperry was previously director of strategy and business for satellite communications provider Satcom Direct. “At OneWeb, Jason is responsible for delivering fiber-like connectivity solutions to business jet owners, operators and end users—passengers and crew alike,” the company said.

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.