Advanced Television

Panasonic Avionics expanding into LEO

December 21, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Panasonic’s aviation division is a major supplier of In-Flight entertainment and broadband connectivity. It leases capacity from the likes of Intelsat, Eutelsat and other geostationary operators and connects about 2,500 commercial aircraft and their passengers. Panasonic is now looking at expanding into low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.

Panasonic Avionics already has a commercial relationship with Eutelsat’s OneWeb for further connectivity, and a new mantra which says “Leading with LEO”. The rationale is all about latency with Panasonic’s airline clients and their passengers increasingly expecting latency of 100 milliseconds – or less – which only LEO can provide.

An interview carried by Space Intel Report confirmed that Panasonic had expanded its orbital capacity this year by 50 percent and it had taken extra capacity on Eutelsat 10B and Apstar 6B amongst others.

However, John Wade, Panasonic’s VP/Connectivity, said that Panasonic would increasingly be adopting LEO and that a LEO connection was far more tolerant in terms of passenger experience, and praised Starlink’s concept. It had also tested OneWeb and in particular its bandwidth and capacity over major US hub airports where demand is very high. Wade looked forward to OneWeb’s 2nd Generation satellites, which will start to be in orbit by 2028 which would quadruple available capacity.

He also stated that air travel had recovered to pre-Covid levels. He said that pre-Covid some 4.5 billion passengers were travelling each year. He said that the industry had now matched number and a 5 billion annual travel market was very much in sight. Charging just $1 per passenger for WiFi created a $5 billion annual service revenues, which was significant.

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