Canadian aerospace company, Flyht has launched a new portable SATCOM system, based on Iridium network technology that promises global communications at low prices for the aviation industry. At an initial cost of less than $10,000, the Dragon system will allow pilots and passengers to communicate for less, with no certification needed.
Using iPads, pilots and passengers will be able to use the Dragon iPad app to make telephone calls, send and receive emails and texts. The App will also be utilised by ground-based operations to deliver NOTAMs and weather updates to the cockpit, globally, via the Iridium satellite network.
As the world of aviation requests global flight tracking in the wake of flight MH370’s disappearance, the advent of the Dragon could not be better timed. With its ability to feed ASD systems, the Dragon is capable of flight following and has been tested by Chinese company, Aircraft Data Communication for input into its global aircraft management system.
Real-time flight tracking and delivery of automated OOOI messages is set to be high on many operators agenda’s this year. Other providers of technology based upon the Iridium network, particularly in the world of business aviation, are stepping up in the face of the competition.
Expanding communications bandwidth may soon broaden the horizons for aircraft internet that pass way beyond passenger connectivity. With increasing computer technology, greater bandwidth and storage capacity, the ability for aircraft to use data sharing and facilitate decision-making with web-based applications brings it all a step closer.
Inmarsat, a British satellite network operator, is a huge name already in aviation, using the far-reaching capabilities of the network for aircraft communications in L-band services. Honeywell is currently working with Inmarsat on the development of the avionics for the new generation of Global Xpress satellites that will operate in Ka-band. Ka-band will bring faster data rates and widen the possibilities for streaming and allowing operators to think ahead of passenger communications.
Honeywell have completed the critical design reviews for Global Xpress and will begin testing this month. The first of three Inmarsat-5 satellites was launched late last year and the rest are expected to be in place by early next year.
Avionics engineering company, L2 Consulting Services, Inc. (L2) recently announced it has received a Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the installation of the International Communications Group, Inc. (ICG) Iridium Communications System on 767 series aircraft.
A dedicated datalink channel will be able to support Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), Future Air Navigation System (FANs) messaging, Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract (ADS-C) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC).
Having developed the integration engineering, produced the installation kits and project managed throughout, including the STC process, L2 will now be allowed to install comprehensive communications systems via ICG NxtLink Series ICS-120A and ICS-220A line replaceable units.
Michael Eiras, Senior Director of L2 Technical Services welcomed the Iridium Communications System STC on the 767 aircraft saying it would ‘complement the companies current portfolio of SATCOM installations on the 737, 747, 757 and 777 aircraft.’
The scheduled shutdown of Aircell’s Airfone service will spell the end of business aviation’s use of Magnastar systems, but there are a number of roads that can be taken before deactivation takes place.
Although Airfone’s air-to-ground communications network will be over, Aircell is still offering discounts on many alternatives such as;
- ATG5000 Gogo Biz
These systems will require upgrades to deliver Smartphone-based services to the tune of around $10,000.
If users have a satcom system, they will be able to continue using MagnaStar, with Teledyne Controls continuing to support MagnaStar as well.
Other business aviation communications companies, such as ExecJet Mobile and ARINC Direct can furnish aircraft with portable Iridium satellite communications equipment and software that can be used for essential flight deck comms, passenger communications and cabin services.
Costs for installations of these systems and software will be higher if the aircraft has no current Iridium transceiver in place.
The new ARINC Xplore device is due to be launched in spring 2014, but ExecJet BizJet mobile systems are available now. High numbers of aircraft operators are hurrying to replace equipment at hugely discounted prices as the shutdown becomes imminent.
At the National Business Aviation Association convention last month in Las Vegas, satellite data link solutions providers, Latitude Technologies announced it has begun the process of achieving certification for its Future Air Navigation System (FANS) data link transceiver.
The system will transmit real-time satellite data link communications of safety services data over and via the Iridium satellite network.
“At Latitude, we pride ourselves at always being in the lead bringing to market new technologies developed specifically to help our customers to fly more efficiently, more safely, and more cost effectively,” said President of Latitude Technologies, Mark Insley, at the convention, “FANS-equipped commercial and executive jets are the way of the future and Latitude is very pleased to add FANS to our broad range of FDM, AFF, and SatCom products.”
FANS satellite data link communications can also help long-range business jets with the qualification of FANS compliant aircraft, enabling dynamic route planning and en route flight optimization.
Other satellite data link communications providers, such as ARINC Direct, also offer FANS data link transceivers as an integral part of their flight support services and flight deck communications packages for Business Aviation.
Following the announcement of the proposed sale of its parent company, ARINC Direct senior director of sales, Joel Ehrmann admitted that the merger could provide opportunities for both companies in terms of online flight planning and support services, but he was unable to talk about the deal.
“It’s still got to be approved by regulators,” he said, “So its business as usual until the sale completes. But there are a lot of potential synergies.”
At LABACE this year, ARINC Direct had their latest innovation, Xplore, the SATCOM box. Once certified, the connection of iPad and other mobile devices in the cockpit will be easily and efficiently linked to the Iridium satellite network. ARINC Direct may begin the pitch to helicopters, especially in the offshore oil industry.
ARINC Direct seem to be preparing for a new office in Brazil shortly; according to Mr Ehrmann, “The major thing here is everyone’s ramping up for the World Cup and Olympics in Rio.” He believes that major improvements will be seen in infrastructure and activity.
Mr Ehrmann would not comment as to how many Brazillian or Latin American customers ARINC Direct have, but stated that worldwide, the company cater to over 3,100 aircraft.
ARINC Direct’s iPad app has been particularly popular in the business jet industry, with its flexibility for flight planning and flight support services. It will work well with the Xplore box in the cockpit of private aircraft across the globe.
It was recently reported that only a quarter of passengers satisfied with on-board wifi services. A study from FlightView found that despite the increase in uptake of services by airlines just 28% of passengers were satisfied with their service.
So how can airlines offer a better service to their passengers?
ARINC Direct offers a series of solutions for business aviation owners and operators with this very problem in mind. With ARINC in-flight broadband you can deliver solutions to promote passenger loyalty. Integrated satellite services allow you to offer your passengers easy-to-use products based on Inmarsat or Iridium satellite communications services, allowing passengers to stay connected.
ARINC Direct’s Satellite Services offer reliable, cost-effective, voice and data services for your aircraft whenever and wherever you may fly.
Passenger Communications – Satellite Communications
For voice communications the ARINC business aviation services keep passengers connected with the ability to make calls, send and receive faxes, and stay online anywhere in the world.For the full range of passenger communications services offered by ARINC direct please visit the ARINC Direct Flight Support site.