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One of the world’s leading mobile satellite service operators, Thuraya Telecommunications Company, has introduced a new solution entitled ‘Thuraya Aero’ to the marketplace. The innovative new solution is a satellite communication service that enables in-flight connectivity for internet access, voice calls, text messaging and high-speed data applications on board small- to medium-sized aircrafts.

Developed in partnership with trusted leaders in aviation solutions - namely SCOTTY, Cobham and SRT, Thuraya Aero is suitable for fixed wing and rotary wing aircrafts as well as any other air platforms flying missions beyond line of sight.

Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with a number of prominent Thuraya Communications executives and some of its partners at CommunicAsia 2018 which was held in Singapore.

In the in-depth interview, the executives outlined the major benefits and impact the Thuraya Aero solution will have in relation to onboard connectivity and highlighted the impact the enterprise has made in the Asia Pacific region since acquiring a trade license in 2007.

Director of Marketing and Branding at Thuraya Communications, Raouf Khalife said that since the launch of the solution at the Dubai Air Show in November, Thuraya Aero had generated a lot of traction and said the product eliminated a lot of costs in relation to certification for airline carriers.

Khalife said, “Thuraya AERO is an incredibly smart solution that has been specifically designed to target markets such as business aviation, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) and search and rescue. The solution covers both types of airframes, fixed-wing and rotary, and enables the utilization of a double-channel modem onboard in a very comprehensive form factor that will help companies save a significant amount of money in integration of the system. We’re relatively new to this segment of business, but we’ve acquired a lot of prospective customers since the initial launch of the new solution in November last year at the Dubai Airshow and it has attracted a lot of interest since we introduced the solution to the market.”

The Director of Marketing and Branding said that the company has enjoyed steady growth in the APAC region since launching operations in 2007, and declared that Thuraya Communications had firmly established itself as a major market player in the region, and expected its position to be solidified with the launch of the Thuraya Aero solution.

“Thuraya Communications has been operating in the APAC region since acquiring a trade license in Singapore back in 2007. We’ve worked with some of the biggest mobile network operators in the region, and we’ve enjoyed year-on-year growth in Asia. We’re an ambitious company and as a market leader in the satellite industry, we aim to expand our services and solutions in this emerging marketplace which continues to evolve”, said Khalife.

“We’ve established a really strong network in Asia Pacific, and have developed strong business relationships with a number of the major satellite players in Japan, China, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. We’re obviously not the new kid on the block in the APAC region anymore, and after 11 years in the market, we understand the culture, the nature of the market and the opportunities. Enterprises within the ICT industry in the APAC region fully appreciate the dynamic role Thuraya plays in the satellite sector and our brand has gained the trust and respectability of the market. We’re renowned for delivering high-quality solutions andservices,” concluded Khalife.

Telecom Review then spoke to the CEO of Scotty Group of Kurt Kerschat. Scotty Group, an Austrian-based company that has partnered with Thuraya Communications on the Thuraya Aero solution. Kerschat described the partnership between the two enterprises as a ‘perfect match’.

Kerschat told Telecom Review, “When you look at the cooperation that we have with two parties involved with the Thuraya Aero solution, I think it represents the perfect match from a business perspective. If you examine the current situation in the modern world, it’s very evident that connectivity is entering all aspects of our daily lives. Connectivity is critically important in almost every industry across the globe. People want to be connected all the time, and that extends to when they’re travelling by air, they want to be connected when they’re on an aircraft. You see that now with a number of airline carriers such as Emirates that you can connect to Wi-Fi while onboard. Connectivity on the aircraft is vitally important for passengers, and this is something we call ‘cabin connectivity’.”

Telecom Review also interviewed Andreas Krenn, Managing Director of ProtectivesTrading, which is a company based in Dubai that provides crucial and life-saving equipment to defense and law enforcement units in the Middle East and Africa, highlighted the difference in connectivity demands between passengers and the cockpit. 

Krenn said, “It’s very important to focus attention on the connectivity requirements in the cockpit. The cockpit usage and demands of connectivity are not comparable to that of a passengers’ use of Wi-Fi. Passengers will be accessing applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. In relation to cockpit connectivity, you need to think about data link applications directly related to Air Traffic Management, optimizing route trajectories and enhancing operational efficiencies – all to the benefits of aircraft operators. Further to enhance the operational efficiencies, the cockpit connectivity demand is driven by regulatory requirements. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) has introduced new rules which need to be rolled out by aircraft operators in the next two years. Every new aircraft that is being delivered to go into service has to be equipped with specific connectivity equipment to fulfil the requirement which links the cockpit with the air traffic management systems, added Krenn. “

The collection and utilization of data, according to Kerschat, is both the most challenging and critically important factor the Thuraya Aero solution is seeking to address with regards to onboard connectivity. Cockpit Connectivity vie Satellite will play a major role in future to link the aircraft with air traffic management as well as the airlines operations centers to enhance operations and increase airspace capacity. The critical cockpit connectivity is clearly defined by ICAO, who is recommending L-Band as the frequency used for the aircraft control domain.

“There’s so much data and information being generated by the aircraft that it’s imperative that all of this information shall be used to enhance flight operations and reduce costs by using real time transmission of generated data. The industry is at the door step to implement and enhance connectivity solutions to capitalize on operational data generated by the aircraft inflight in real time. This inevitably means that the satellite connectivity is so important, and the match now between Thuraya and its partners in the Aero solution is complimenting the primary objectives of the aero satellite connectivity.”

Krenn added, “Scotty Group and its partners has put the brains and the technology onto the aircraft which enables the aircraft to be connected to the Thuraya satellite through a  secure communication link and provide an integration platform to sensor systems that are necessary to relay the data from the aircraft.”

In addition to voice and data, the Thuraya Aero provides also video communication capabilities The Scotty Video codec, which can be integrated as an option directly into the satellite data unit onboard, is very efficient and effective and is known to be the market leading solution for HD video transmission over L-Band satellite links.

Kerschat concluded by saying that Thuraya Aero has the capabilities to address the security concerns in the GCC region, and said it was yet another unique component that is part of the solution which differentiates itself from its competitors and rivals.

“It’s really an exciting time for us as well as the customer segments we’re addressing at the moment.. When you really examine the security concerns we have, especially in the Middle East region, offering such a solution like the Thuraya Aero in terms of its ability to protect countries and cities in the GCC region, really is a game-changer for the market,” stated Kerschat.

Fahad Kahoor, Director of Market Development, Thuraya Communications told Telecom Review that the company was increasing its focus on its Internet of Things strategy and business plan in the forthcoming years.

Kahoor said, “The IoT business for us will become one of our key strategic focuses in the next few years. The market has become very smart and innovative. This market transition forced us to enhance our IoT product portfolio, and I think for a considerable period of time, IoT was exclusively targeted and developed for the oil and gas industry, but that has now changed fundamentally. One of our other strategic targets is also centered around government. The government is dedicating a lot of its resources to IoT. When we conducted a comprehensive analysis on the market, we discovered that satellite IoT has potential to be more profitable for us because we’ve seen the projected numbers, so overall, the IoT market and business is hugely important for us.”

He added, “Thuraya Aero offers a simple interface to onboard sensors and equipment and it can be easily installed on any aircraft. The hardware and software components to communicate with the satellite systems of Thuraya are developed in partnership with reputable entities within the aeronautical industry. This powerful combination of well-known aerospace solution suppliers has already secured all necessary aero-approvals to offer these high-class products to the aeronautical market, and it seems inevitable that the Thuraya Aero solution is going to be a phenomenal success for Thuraya Communications.”