Inmarsat-5 satellite. Courtesy, Boeing

Ten months after its $491 million acquisition of EMS Technologies—a connectivity solutions provider for mobile networking, mobile computers, and satellite communications—Honeywell has signed an exclusive agreement with Inmarsat valued at $2.8 billion over 20 years to develop, produce and distribute the onboard hardware for its Global Xpress connectivity network. Under terms, Honeywell will provide the external antenna, currently in two separate configurations—a tail-mount configuration primarily for business jets and a top fuselage-mount—as well as the satellite terminal equipment and other hardware.

Inmarsat had previously selected Rockwell Collins as its hardware provider for the Ka-band solution (ATW Daily News, Sept.1, 2011), however, the two companies recently “discontinued negotiations on an agreement to develop a joint global Ka broadband solution for the aviation industry,” Rockwell Collins said in a statement. “Accordingly, Rockwell Collins is evaluating alternative broadband solutions as part of its continued commitment to provide comprehensive connectivity offerings.”

Inmarsat is scheduled to launch the first Inmarsat-5 satellite in mid-2013 for the Ka-band Global Xpress service (ATW Daily News, Dec.13, 2011), and expects global coverage of the satellite to work in the 2014 timeframe.

“It’s very important that it’s global,” Honeywell VP, marketing and product management Carl Esposito told ATW. “There are not good solutions today for global transatlantic, transpacific aircraft and there hasn’t been a satellite network developed the ground up for these types of mobile users…This is really the first satellite network for aerospace that was designed for mobility and mobile users.”

Honeywell said it will also look at how to utilize the bandwidth, the mechanical systems, and the avionic systems onboard the aircraft to enable “really innovative services” to improve the operation of the aircraft including the streaming of maintenance data.

“We acquired EMS Technologies, a satellite communication provider, really looking at [the] trends in the industry around aircraft connectivity,” Esposito said. “We feel that the combination of EMS Technology and the Honeywell portfolio is really a winning combination.”