EAN (European Aviation Network)
Inmarsat PLC of the UK and Deutsche Telekom have joined forces to create a high-speed broadband service for airlines flying across Europe, combining Inmarsat's S-band satellite and a LTE (Long Term Evolution) ground network, provided by Deustche Telekom. The first integrated network of its kind, the European Aviation Network will enable the European aviation industry to offer a connectivity experience for passengers to rival anything available. Inmarsat Global Ltd. and Deutsche Telekom AG formed a Partnership in EAN.
EAN is the world's first integrated satellite and air-to-ground network dedicated to providing a true in-flight broadband experience for the European aviation industry and for the millions of passengers travelling across Europe. With the full support of the European Commission, broadband takes to the skies. 1) 2) 3)
• Ground-breaking broadband solution for airline passengers integrates satellite and LTE-based terrestrial network for superior performance.
• Key milestones achieved for project, as test flight is successfully conducted in UK and live over-the-air connection achieved in Germany.
• Construction of S-band satellite and rollout of approximately 300 LTE sites across Europe remains on track.
The cooperation of Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom with other market-leaders across Europe, including Thales, Nokia, Cobham SATCOM and OTE, on this pioneering development will strengthen Europe's position as a global technology innovator and support the continued growth of its aviation industry.
Components of EAN:
EAN consists of two main components, the MSS (Mobile Satellite Service) satellite component from Inmarsat which covers Europe and the surrounding oceanic regions, and the complementary ground component of Deutsche Telekom, which provides the required capacity in areas with extensive air traffic. 4) 5)
Figure 1: EAN seamlessly combines S-band satellites and a complementary 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile terrestrial network – the first of its kind worldwide (image credit: EAN partnership)
MSS satellite component:
1) The satellite access station serves as a gateway towards the satellite and connects the feeder links to the core network.
2) Inmarsat S-band satellite, a state-of the-art and custom-designed platform provides multi-beam pan-European coverage.
3) Satellite terminal installed in the aircraft that communicates with the satellite.
CGC (Complementary Ground Component):
4) The CGC terminal system on board of the aircraft that communicates with the terrestrial base stations.
5) Terrestrial base stations located throughout Europe.
6) Evolved Packet Core (Core Network), the place where all the LTE traffic is converged.
7) The Inmarsat Meet-Me-Point aggregates all traffic streams, routes it to the ISP (Infrastructure Service Provider), to airline data centers or wherever required. It also contains the traffic shaping and the reporting functions.
8) The ISP Platform of Deutsche Telekom enables authentication, authorization and accounting of the Internet service and its users.
Figure 2: EAN aircraft components - light, small and low maintenance (image credit: (image credit: EAN partnership)
Figure 3: EAN Coverage Map (image credit: EAN partnership)
Inmarsat S-band EAN / Hellas Sat3 satellite
The newest edition to Inmarsat's fleet will provide the satellite element of the integrated EAN (European Aviation Network), set to transform connectivity for airline passengers in Europe. 6)
The Inmarsat S EAN multi-beam satellite is part of a condominium satellite, or ‘condosat', constructed by TAS (Thales Alenia Space), which incorporates a second payload for Hellas-Sat fixed and broadcast satellite services.
Built on the Spacebus 4000 C4 platform, the condosat will weigh about 5.8 tons at launch and will offer payload power of approximately 12.7 kW.
It will be positioned at 39° East, providing EAN mobile satellite services in Inmarsat's S-band spectrum allocation across all 28 member states of the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland.
Table 1: Some satellite parameters
Background: In June 2014, Thales Alenia Space announced today that it will construct a powerful telecommunications condominium satellite, Inmarsat S – Europasat / Hellas-Sat 3, for Inmarsat and Hellas-Sat. The satellite will provide MSS (Mobile Satellite Services), FSS (Fixed Satellite Services) and BSS (Broadcast Satellite Services). 7)
The MSS payload is designed to deliver an S-band service across all 28 member states of the European Union; the FSS/BSS coverage zones are Europe, Middle East and Southern Africa. The Inmarsat S – Europasat payload will offer enhanced mobile services across Europe through a hybrid network, which combines S-Band satellite services with a CGC (Complementary Ground Component) infrastructure. Inmarsat S – Europasat will serve the aviation passenger connectivity services, as well as the safety services for PPDR (Public Protection & Disaster Relief) all over Europe. The Hellas-Sat 3 payload will deliver DTH (Direct-to-Home) and Telecom services in its designated coverage areas, maintaining and expanding Hellas-Sat business reach with additional capacities.
As program prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the design, production, testing and OGD (On Ground Delivery) of the satellite. It will also take charge of the launch campaign, and will support the customers for the LEOP (Launch and Early Operations Phase) and IOT (In-Orbit Tests).
Built on the Spacebus 4000 C4 platform from Thales Alenia Space, Inmarsat S – Europasat / Hellas-Sat 3 will deliver a multi-beam mission in S-band and Ka-band for Inmarsat as well as a powerful Ku/Ka-band mission of 44 Ku and 1 Ka transponders for Hellas-Sat. The satellite will has a mass of about 5.8 tons at launch and will offer payload power of about 12.3 kW. Inmarsat S – Europasat / Hellas-Sat 3 will be positioned at 39° East.
Figure 4: Photo of the Inmarsat S EAN satellite (image credit: Inmarsat)
• May 24, 2017: Europasat, the "Inmarsat S-band / Hellas Sat 3" telecommunication satellite, has been shipped to the Kourou launch pad in French Guyana to be launched by Ariane 5 rocket in June. This condominium satellite for Inmarsat and Hellas Sat will provide MSS (Mobile Satellite Services), FSS (Fixed Satellite Services) and BSS (Broadcast Satellite Services). 8)
Figure 5: The Inmarsat S-band / Hellas-Sat 3 satellite being loaded for delivery to the Kourou launch facility in French Guyana (image credit: TAS)
Figure 6: Photo of the Europasat container for shipment to Kourou (image credit: TAS)
Figure 7: Photo of the GSAT-17 satellite in clean room with one of its antennas deployed (image credit: ISRO) 9)
Launch: Two communication satellites, Inmarsat S-band EAN / Hellas-Sat 3 and GSAT-17 of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) were launched on June 28, 2017 (21:15 UTC) on an Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket of Arianespace, designated VA238, from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. 10) 11) 12) 13)
Table 2: Arianespace statement after the launch of VA238 14)
The Inmarsat S-band/Hellas-Sat 3 "condo sat" spacecraft will support the EAN (European Aviation Network), delivering high-capacity Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) connectivity to airline passengers throughout Europe, on behalf of Inmarsat of London and provide direct television broadcast services over Europe and Africa for the Greek operator Hellas-Sat. The GSAT-17 will support national communications services over India for ISRO.
Orbit: Inmarsat S-band EAN / Hellas-Sat 3 will be launched into GTO (geosynchronous Transfer Orbit) and later be positioned into GEO at 39º E orbital location (35786 km altitude).
Orbit of GSAT-17: The spacecraft (3477 kg) was launched into GTO and will later be positioned into GEO at 93.5ºE. 15)
The Inmarsat S-band EAN / Hellas-Sat 3 satellite will carry two missions; first, the S-band payload (also designated as ‘EuropaSat'), which represents Inmarsat's commitment to deploy an integrated telecommunications network to deliver aviation passenger connectivity services on a EU-wide basis. — Secondly, a 44 Ku-band transponders payload designated ‘Hellas-sat 3' for Hellas-Sat, a majority owned subsidiary of Arabsat that will replace the existing Hellas-Sat 2 satellite and provide more growth capacities to its customers with diversified footprints in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
EAN (European Aviation Network):
EAN is the world's first integrated satellite and air-to-ground service dedicated to providing a true inflight Wi-Fi experience for passengers flying across the busy skies of Europe.
Revolutionizing the onboard experience, EAN will enable passengers to browse the Internet, stream videos, check social media and more on their smart devices in the same way as they expect to on the ground – all at 10-12 km in altitude!
The Inmarsat satellite connectivity will be combined with a 4G LTE-based ground network covering approximately 300 sites, operated by partner Deutsche Telekom. An aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an onboard network communicator for optimal service delivery.
Designed specifically for high-traffic flight paths and busy airport hubs, and with International Airlines Group already signed up as launch customer, EAN will transform the passenger experience for millions of people who have been cut off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access when they fly.
Figure 8: Artist's rendition of the deployed Inmarsat S-band EAN / Hellas-Sat 3 satellite (image credit: Inmarsat)
Figure 9: Four-panel fairing for Ariane 5 (image credit: ESA)
• July 18, 2019: The European Aviation Network (EAN) the fastest inflight broadband service in Europe, is now being offered by airlines to more than 30,000 passengers across the continent each day, allowing them to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media, enjoy real-time interactive gaming, and more during flights. 18)
- Currently under a ‘soft launch' phase with initial airline customers, the award-winning connectivity solution can already be accessed on more than 100 routes from key destinations such as London, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon, Prague, Rome and Vienna. To date, almost two million passengers have traveled on flights with access to EAN.
- Building upon European infrastructure, EAN marks a paradigm shift in the airline passenger experience for the continent which, according to the press release, offers incomparable speeds, uninterrupted coverage and significantly lower latency than any other inflight broadband network in the market.
- Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: "EAN has established an unprecedented new benchmark for inflight broadband, not only in Europe but on a global basis. It combines the expertise of Europe's most innovative companies to provide best-in-class connectivity unmatched by any other solution. We have been working with our initial airline customers to monitor and fine-tune the service during their soft launches before it's rolled out on their wider fleets. We are extremely pleased with the initial response from both the airlines and their passengers, which is testament to the important role EAN is already playing in the European aviation industry. This vision of a unique, pan-European high-speed inflight connectivity network is being deployed with advanced infrastructure in the skies and on the ground."
- Developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom (DT) in partnership with leading European companies such as Thales, Nokia, Airbus, Cobham and EAD Aerospace, EAN has been designed from scratch specifically for the needs of European aviation. It delivers consistent inflight broadband across Europe, one of the world's most congested airspaces, with more than one billion passengers and 11 million flights per year.
- For airline customers, EAN also offers the fastest ever installation time for a connectivity solution, requiring under nine hours per aircraft, meaning significantly less downtime. Combined with the system's low weight, low drag and low maintenance, this results in lower overall operation costs.
- Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, said: "We are delighted that airline passengers are now enjoying the game-changing inflight broadband capabilities of the European Aviation Network. This is a momentous achievement, not only for Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat, but for all the European partners involved in getting this highly innovative solution off to such a flying start. EAN has a bright future ahead as it continues to roll out on more and more aircraft with initial airline customers over the coming months. In addition, its lightweight, small and low maintenance equipment provides a hugely compelling business case for other European carriers."
• May 29, 2018: Inmarsat, the world's leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that its European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight wifi solution will be available for the business aviation market by early 2019. 19)
- EAN is the world's first inflight wifi solution that integrates connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and an LTE (Long-Term Evolution)-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom, covering all 28 member states of the European Union, as well as Switzerland and Norway.
- The unique combination of a satellite and 4G LTE-based ground network offers super-fast, low latency performance over land and water. It can therefore meet highly demanding internet use, such as working with remote business desktops, streaming high-definition videos, enjoying online gaming and sharing images, with service levels that compare to mobile broadband on the ground.
- Aircraft connect with the network using award-winning small, ultra-lightweight, low drag hardware that is cost-effective to install and operate, making EAN ideal for small to mid-sized business jets, in addition to larger sized jets.
- The business aviation rollout follows EAN's successful introduction in the commercial airline market, with a major launch customer already announced and installing the service on aircraft, plus ongoing discussions with other interested carriers across the continent.
- Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: "EAN is a game-changer for the business aviation market, offering gold standard inflight wifi to a broad spectrum of aircraft, from small turboprops to larger platforms such as the Citations, Learjets and Phenoms. It really is ideal for any business jet whose mission keeps them predominantly in Europe.
- "Our projections show that the European business aviation fleet will grow beyond 5,000 aircraft in the coming years. We expect a strong uptake for EAN by offering a variety of data plans to meet every budget. Work has already commenced with a large business aviation launch customer for the service and planning for our first STC is underway."
- EAN's integrated satellite and ground network is fully operational, with a number of flight trials successfully completed across Europe, demonstrating that the next-generation service meets its design performance in practice. The evaluations were conducted with partners Cobham, Thales and Nokia using a CESSNA 550 Citation II provided by Dutch company NLR.
- Designed to meet the needs of European's congested skies, EAN recently won the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Award for ‘Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation'.
• October 27, 2017: Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom have successfully completed the first flight trials to test both the satellite and complementary ground network for their European Aviation Network (EAN) service. 20)
- Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom conducted the evaluation with partners Cobham, Thales and Nokia using a CESSNA 550 Citation II provided by Dutch company NLR. The aircraft was flown across Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, covering approximately 5,000 km of European airspace, to test integration of the Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminals. Further flight trials are scheduled over the coming weeks.
- Inmarsat Aviation President Philip Balaam said: "These flight trials, together with the recent news that Ofcom in the UK is the latest European regulator to authorize the ground-based stations as part of the EAN, moves the project a step closer to commencing commercial service with our launch customer, which we expect to take place in the first half of 2018. This will be a game changer for the airline market, offering passengers a new gold standard in resilient and scalable inflight broadband, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance."
- Inmarsat's EAN satellite, which completed its in-orbit tests last month after being launched by Arianespace, works seamlessly with a complementary network of around 300 LTE-based ground stations, operated by Deutsche Telekom using an Advanced Integrated Services Manager (AISM) platform. International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes world-renowned airline brands British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service.
• September 11, 2017: Inmarsat today confirmed that the European Aviation satellite has successfully completed its in-orbit tests and now stands ready to support inflight Internet services when EAN ( European Aviation Network ) goes ‘live' later this year. - The satellite, built by France's TAS (Thales Alenia Space), was launched by Arianespace in June of this year. 21)
- EAN is the world's first dedicated aviation connectivity solution to integrate space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless WiFi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe. Inmarsat's strategic partner, Deutsche Telekom, is well advanced in the construction of the complementary ground network, which will be fully integrated with the S-band satellite to deliver a truly seamless service for Europe's airlines and their passengers.
- IAG (International Airlines Group), which includes world renowned airline brands such as British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service.
- The successful completion of spacecraft and payload testing of the S-band satellite further underlines the momentum that Inmarsat is building in the high-speed broadband IFC (Inflight Connectivity) market, which the company entered in October 2016 with the commercial introduction of GX Aviation, a worldwide service powered by its Ka-band, Global Xpress (Ka-band) satellite constellation.
- Inmarsat now has over 1,200 aircraft installations expected under signed contracts for its IFC services. Mandates have been won from leading airlines worldwide including Avianca, Qatar Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa Group, International Airlines Group, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
• June 28, 2017 - First signals from space: Following lift off, the LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) teams from TAS (Thales Alenia Space), Inmarsat and Hellas-Sat will be on standby at the TAS Satellite Control Center in Cannes, France waiting for the first telemetry acquisition, expected approximately 39 minutes into flight, which will be received from the Mingenew Ground Station in Australia (Ref. 6).
- A very long night is then in store for the spacecraft analysts and engineers, who will carry out a series of satellite health checks and maneuvers, including sun pointing acquisition and solar array partial deployment.
- After five days, apogee boost maneuvers will be executed to reach geostationary orbit, when the solar arrays and antennas will be fully deployed and payload in-orbit tests carried out from our Nemea Satellite Control Center in Greece. After in-orbit test completion, satellite control will remain in Nemea, with specific S-band EAN payload commands sent from Inmarsat's Satellite Control Station at our London HQ.
EAN LTE (Long Term Evolution)-based CGC (Complementary Ground Component)
February 2018: Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat have, together with their technology partner Nokia, completed the key technological step in the development of the European Aviation Network (EAN), the world's first integrated S-band satellite and complementary LTE-based terrestrial network built for Europe. With the set-up of around 300 base stations across all 28 member states of the European Union, as well as Switzerland and Norway, the ground network component of EAN has become the first ever Europe-wide integrated LTE network. The completion of the network follows Inmarsat's successful launch of its EAN satellite last summer, which has since been extensively tested in orbit and has been fully operational since September 2017. 22) 23) 24)
LTE (Long Term Evolution): The fourth -generation mobile communications standard and further development of UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System). LTE is based on the transmission method which digital broadcasting, for instance, also uses and enables data rates of up to 100 Megabit/s on the downlink.
Serving the aviation industry and its passengers, the European Aviation Network is a pioneering technological achievement and a truly innovative European project. It provides seamless connectivity over land and water, and offers a high bandwidth service to passengers – currently over 75 Mbit/s connection speed to the aircraft – as airlines using the service do not share network capacity with any non-aviation customers. Passengers will be able to use social media, share pictures and stream high-bandwidth content at speeds they are used to experience at home.
EAN is also designed to fulfill not only current but also future passenger demand for inflight connectivity as the integrated LTE ground network is fully scalable to meet increasing connectivity needs in the coming years.
Game-changer for Airline Industry: The European Aviation Network will be available for airlines to offer commercially from H1 2018, serving as a game-changer for airlines and their customers. The service has been trialed during several flights to test the integrated satellite and complementary LTE ground network. The test flights have confirmed that EAN meets its design performance in practice, providing an unmatched low-latency performance of less than 100 ms.
Airlines will be able to install the small and light-weight EAN equipment quickly and easily, typically during overnight breaks for individual aircraft and turnaround times for entire fleets of just a few months.
International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes airline brands such as British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, is the launch customer for the new service and has already commenced installations of EAN equipment on aircraft.
"With the completion of the first ever integrated pan-European LTE ground network component we are now able to fully support EAN's satellite connectivity and maximize the performance of the EAN system," said Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President, International Wholesale Business at Deutsche Telekom. "The network is specifically designed to meet future capacity demands for connectivity in the European airspace, with passenger volumes expected to double in the next 15 years."
"EAN is the world's first dedicated aviation connectivity solution which effectively combines space and ground-based components, overcoming the traditional limitations of inflight internet," said Frederik van Essen, Senior Vice President at Inmarsat Aviation. "Bringing connectivity to the skies is a complex effort and we could only realize this through strategic collaboration with our European partners."
"EAN's ground network had to meet technical prerequisites that are quite different from ‘normal' LTE networks: it needs to work at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h, at heights of 10 km and requires large cells of up to 150 km," said Thorsten Robrecht, Vice President Vertical Network Slices at Nokia. "Our joint endeavor breaks the technological boundaries between ground and air on connectivity"
Figure 10: Locations of the EAN cell sites across Europe
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The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).