Eutelsat OneWeb, part of Eutelsat Group, the world’s first integrated GEO-LEO satellite operator, and Intelsat, a leading provider of in-flight connectivity (IFC), have completed a series of historic demonstrations of inflight connectivity across the polar regions within the Arctic Circle.
The test flights were completed on Intelsat’s test aircraft, a CRJ-700 regional jet equipped with a multi-orbit Electronically Steered Array (ESA) antenna. The successful test flights demonstrated that airlines that require inflight internet connectivity on long-haul flights at extreme northerly latitudes can rely on Intelsat’s multi-orbit connectivity solution, powered by OneWeb’s LEO constellation, to deliver low-latency, high-throughput service across the polar routes.
The historic flight on December 18, 2023, operated from Anchorage to Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow, AK). Utqiaġvik is situated at a latitude of 71° north, the same as many polar routes connecting Asia, North America and Europe. By connecting to OneWeb’s fleet of low Earth orbit satellites, Intelsat were able to demonstrate that high-speed, low latency performance is available even in a challenging geographic region that previously never had inflight internet service.
Commenting on the flight, Ben Griffin, VP Mobility at Eutelsat OneWeb said, “We congratulate Intelsat on this milestone moment, made possible by OneWeb’s low Earth orbit constellation. This continuous connectivity across all routes and latitudes is a game changer for international airlines flying between East and West across the polar region. This historic flight validates the 5C’s of connectivity that together OneWeb and Intelsat can deliver to our airline customer namely – coverage, capacity, connection, consistency, and community.”
“Airlines and their passengers have never had access to polar connectivity, but together with Eutelsat OneWeb, Intelsat has made history by demonstrating that high-speed internet connectivity above the Arctic Circle is possible,” said Dave Bijur, Intelsat’s senior vice president of Commercial Aviation. “This is an important region for airlines operating intercontinental flights. Thanks to Intelsat’s multi-orbit satellite service millions of international passengers flying on polar routes will enjoy reliable, non-stop connectivity from gate to gate.”