Inmarsat Communication Services

People, businesses and communities are using Inmarsat to meet their own mission-critical communication needs. To use Inmarsat the aircraft needs to be installed with appropriate equipment comprising an antenna – typically installed on the top of the aircraft fuselage – and ‘avionics’ (aircraft electronics installed within the fuselage), normally in the aircraft electronics bay or similar. The system automatically logs on to the Inmarsat network when the aircraft powers up.The Inmarsat system will automatically send or receive voice, ACARS or other communications to or from the aircraft as required, wherever the aircraft flies. If no communications activity is registered, the relevant Inmarsat ground earth station then periodically sends ‘polling signals’ or ‘handshakes’ to the satellite, which relays them to the aircraft. If the aircraft is still operating, an acknowledgement signal, containing basic system information, is sent back to the ground earth station from the aircraft. This includes its unique identification code, and confirmation the aircraft satcom is still operating and available for communications, if required.

How does Inmarsat identify one aircraft from another?

All aircraft are given a unique code confirming its identity, linked to the tail number of the aircraft. The signal sent from an aircraft carries this unique code and cannot get confused with another aircraft.

How are Inmarsat’s services delivered?

Inmarsat’s suite of aviation services includes SwiftBroadband, Swift64 and Classic Aero, which are used by most of the world’s leading airlines, business jet operators, general aviation and government agencies.

What kind of services does Inmarsat provide for passenger communications?

Inmarsat Classic Aero services enable passengers to make phone calls from their in-seat phone, which often doubles up as the in-flight entertainment controller. Where Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband service is available and a cabin Wi-Fi network is installed, passengers can stay connected to the internet throughout the flight using personal smartphones, tablets or laptops to send emails and texts. Where an aircraft is installed with a cabin GSM/GPRS pico cell system, SwiftBroadband is also used to allow passengers to use their own cellular mobile phones for both incoming and outgoing calls.


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