OneWeb, the global space-based communications company, together with commercial aviation terminal partner Stellar Blu Solutions achieved a significant milestone on May 28, when they successfully delivered high-speed, low-latency inflight LEO satellite connectivity to a commercial airliner. Stellar Blu, has partnered with antenna technology provider Ball Aerospace to incorporate its electronically steered arrays (ESA) into the terminal solution. This collaboration realised breakthrough performance on OneWeb’s low-earth orbit (LEO) network. The new Stellar Blu platform, known as “Sidewinder”, will continue flight testing through the remainder of 2022, with a target for certification and availability in mid-2023.
This first test-flight was conducted aboard a Boeing B777-200LR and took off from Fort Worth Alliance Airport (KAFW), in Texas on May 27 and flew for just over one hour delivering the game-changing connectivity experience.
This test flight validates not only the installation and integration of the aircraft terminal, but underscores the performance of the antenna technology and verifies the reliability of the connectivity during taxi, take-off, landing and typical aircraft flight manoeuvres. As with any test flight, the assessment of performance reviewed expected parameters against vendor specifications, while also instrumenting and verifying on-aircraft impact and operating characteristics.
The test flight crew simultaneously demonstrated the ability to connect team’s calls, 4K YouTube streaming, Netflix, online VR gaming and Nintendo Switch gaming, among other structured performance tests. Maximum speeds of 260Mbps download/80Mbps upload and file transfer scenarios of 5GB were demonstrated in approximately 20 seconds, all while operating at well under 100ms of network latency.