SwiftBroadband Helo X-Stream for rotary aircraft unveiled

05 November 2019: Inmarsat has launched SwiftBroadband Helo (SB-Helo) X-Stream, a new system specifically developed for rotary aircraft. The new system for X-Stream services was unveiled at the Vertical Flight Expo & Conference in Farnborough, the birthplace of flight in the UK.

The tailor-made solution is designed to achieve advanced streaming performance on intermediate and high-gain antennas, alleviating the connectivity constraints traditionally caused by rotary blades, and builds on Inmarsat’s commitment to meet the needs of government customers and partners.

SB-Helo X-Stream will expand the resilience of the service on the aircraft by mitigating against data packet loss. Based on testing conducted earlier this year, the helicopter-grade solution has been proven to achieve a 40% reduction in data packet loss compared to the standard background IP service, as well as delivering throughputs of up to 400kbps per single channel. Multiple channels can be aggregated enabling enhancements in the overall performance of the system.

Communication needs

Todd McDonell, President of Inmarsat Global Government, commented: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the SB-Helo X-Stream solution, ensuring our services are always-on and evolving to meet the operational communication needs of our government end users and partners. The introduction of this new solution will ensure government helicopter operators have reliable satellite connectivity, enhancing the capability of rotary wing platforms by providing simultaneous voice and data communications.

“Inmarsat has had a long-standing commitment to developing helicopter connectivity technology. We want to ensure that our customers are able to select the optimum solution when considering helicopter-specific hardware options, and the introduction of the Inmarsat SB-Helo X-Stream services will offer even more choice to government end-users seeking optimum connectivity.”

The solution ensures that applications requiring the consistent transmission of real-time data, such as video streaming, provide a high-quality delivery during operational use.

Service reliability

Traditionally, satellite data connections to rotary wing platforms have been constrained by the effect of the rotating blades. However, this new solution will deliver additional power and effectively reduce packet loss and jitter, significantly improving the bandwidth, quality and reliability of service.

The introduction of the new subclass for SB X-Stream will provide a variety of hardware options, allowing customers to select the most appropriate one for their platform and for the needs of the crew or passengers on board. A dedicated commercial offer has been created to mark the launch.

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