ARINS Direct hope to launch its Connect low-cost business aviation communication service before the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention this October in Las Vegas. They have just a few regulatory hurdles and technical issues to resolve.
Designed to provide airborne communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) messaging via an Apple iPad application, the service is the future of ACARS’s communications traditionally provided by the like of the ARINC AviNet service.
James Hardie ARINC Direct director said “We were looking at having the box ready for the second quarter of this year, but we’re a little bit behind with some of the things we’ve had to do to refine things, We’re very confident that by NBAA we’ll be in full production offering it up to customers, and in between we’ll be looking to do some trials as well”
“Connect” currently is only a working title for the product and fresh branding will be announced at the EBASE show in May.
At the 2012 NBAA convention the product was announced and a pre-production version will be available for demonstration at the EBASE show.
James Hardie added “It is designed to provide airborne communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) messaging via an Apple iPad application, high quality voice communications using an iPhone or Android device, and email. We’re looking to enable connectivity into new markets and also into existing markets with this box. If they’ve got an Iridium phone system then this box can take the place of some of that, using the antenna infrastructure. We’ve had an awful lot of interest from all sorts of operators, from medevac to charter. They might buy this equipment and put it on board a charter aircraft that they are managing for another individual.”
Connect is also being offered as a low-cost enabler for on-board services. “We think there’s an opportunity there to enable across a much wider range of aircraft because of technological developments in terms of miniaturisation of equipment and better understanding of interference issues, a lot of those issues that were around at the top of people’s agendas a few years ago are very much resolved. The next iteration will be looking at developing a user interface for the data link in the cockpit, which would be done through the iPad and connecting to the Arinc Direct box.”
James Hardie added the Connect iPad app is “essentially an electronic flight bag providing a paperless cockpit capability”.
At the request of their customer various new features have been added including “Cloud” connectivity for continuous synchronisation.
Carrying on James hardie said “If you write something down on your iPad it’s appearing on the co-pilot’s iPad, and as long as the aircraft has got a connection to the ground then we can provide data back to our cloud servers. They’ll store that information so if there are any problems with it, it can be regenerated and the content of your flight plan is accessible in flight and after the flight by everybody.”
Other features to be included shortly include ad hoc flight planning within the app, as well as “just before flight” activities such as weight and balance sign-off.