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Hughes Lightweight LEO Antenna Delivers Fast, Reliable Internet during In-Flight Wi-Fi Demo

Hughes team at Aircraft Interiors Expo

This summer, for the first time, Hughes not only exhibited at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany, but also demonstrated an innovative technology poised to prompt radical change within commercial aviation: Hughes small, lightweight, and high-performance Low Earth Orbit (LEO) antenna solution that powers both a standalone LEO only connectivity solution, as well as hybrid solution to augment any GEO service. This electronically steerable antenna (ESA) is optimized for airlines, supporting fast and reliable LEO satellite service for in-cabin Wi-Fi connectivity

AIX attendees were intrigued by two distinct aspects of the ESA: its ability to deliver high-performance broadband connectivity from such a lightweight, low power consumption antenna and its compatibility with LEO that enables a snappy connectivity user experience. The ESA’s light weight is an important characteristic when it comes to installing this kind of equipment on an aircraft. For the airline, it means they can provide exceptional onboard Wi-Fi connectivity with the least fuel and range penalty. When profits and feasibility are measured in cents per mile, features like these have significant implications for airlines with long haul and transoceanic flights, like those serving the European and Asia Pacific markets. 

Hughes attendance at the event wasn’t limited to product announcements and slide presentations. We also conducted a real-time, working demonstration of in-flight connectivity utilizing the ESA and OneWeb’s LEO constellation. We invited attendees to connect their smart phone or other personal electronic devices (PEDs), just as they would on a flight. Moreover, we asked them to do more than just text, inviting them to Facetime with a friend, log onto their Microsoft Teams or cloud-based apps, send or receive large files, or place voice calls––all while encouraging them to imagine doing all these same activities at 35,000 feet in the air, including over the ocean and polar regions. The consensus was positive all around! In fact, Jason Rabinowitz, co-host of Flightradar24’s AvTalk podcast, accepted our invitation to try the service and shared his experience on Twitter

Screen grab of AIX tweet


While Hughes has been in the in-flight connectivity space for over a decade as an operator selling satellite capacity and equipment to other service providers, we are now stepping forward as an airline service provider in our own right. We are in a unique position to provide both the technology and the service directly to commercial airlines. Best of all, installation can be quick and easy since the antenna is just a single lightweight unit. 

Our in-flight connectivity solutions include: 

  • Hughes LEO In-Flight: Managed in-flight solution combining low-latency capacity from OneWeb with the Hughes LEO Antenna 
  • Hughes Fusion In-Flight: Combining LEO service with Hughes Fusion™ technology to augment an existing GEO IFC solution 
  • Hughes JUPITER In-Flight: Managed in-flight solution combining JUPITER™ System baseband equipment with the Thinkom KA1717 or Ka2517 antenna. 

Learn more about the Hughes In-Flight Suite of Aero Solutions, providing commercial and business airlines the ultimate flexibility for in-flight connectivity.