Saudia will start flying a fleet of Airbus A321neo and A321XLR aircraft equipped with Falcon 300 terminals—pictured here installed on a 737—to enable Inmarsat’s GX Aviation in-flight connectivity service next year. (Photo: Stellar Blu)

Saudia is on track to start flying Airbus A321 aircraft upgraded with Falcon 300 terminals to enable Inmarsat’s GX Aviation in-flight connectivity (IFC) service early next year. The Saudi Arabian national carrier is ready to start installing and activating the GX connectivity on a fleet of 35 Airbus A321neo and A321XLR aircraft after the completion of a flight trial campaign where Inmarsat tested the performance of the service across “more than 320 simultaneous online user sessions and sustained throughput of over 200Mbps.”

The Falcon 300 terminal has received full type approval for the Airbus A321, according to Inmarsat. Developed in partnership with Inmarsat, Stellar Blu’s Falcon 300 terminal includes a Ka-band mechanical phased array antenna, dual modem MODMAN, and several cabin wireless access points.

Stellar Blu served as the lead on obtaining certification and scheduling installations of the Falcon 300 on Saudia’s Airbus A321s, according to the connectivity terminal provider’s CEO Tracy Trent. In May, during the Future Aviation Forum held in Riyadh, Stellar Blu signed a collaboration agreement with Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) to include the company’s in-flight connectivity installations as one of the modification services offered at a new one million square meter, custom-designed MRO Village to be located at the King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah.

“The fact we have reached this stage in such a short timeframe is testament to the talented engineering teams on both sides, who mainly worked remotely over the last two years and rarely met in person. We look forward to seeing the Falcon 300 onboard SAUDIA’s Airbus A321neo and Airbus A321XLR aircraft, followed by many more airline fleets in the years to come,” Trent said in a statement.

Saudia first made the selection of the Falcon 300 for its Airbus A321 fleet in November 2021 to become the first airline customer for Inmarsat’s OneFi portal. Inmarsat launched the OneFi customer experience platform (CXP) last year as a new digital in-flight passenger experience tool to drive more ancillary revenue from passengers last year.

“The results of our flight trials have demonstrated the terminal’s ability to consistently deliver the highest levels of connectivity, even over the world’s busiest airspaces,” William Huot-Marchand, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of In-flight Connectivity, said in a statement. “And with final type approval now in place, we are fast approaching commercial service at the beginning of next year.”