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Business aviation providers of passenger communications | Find out more about onboard internetA new communications satellite has been launched by Intelsat this week, the first of its latest EpicNG range. Intelsat 29e has been designed to provide low-cost connectivity for the North American routes for both air and sea and will eventually become part of a seven-strong satellite network.

The satellite will be used to deliver fast passenger communications onboard aircraft, as today’s demands increase for connectivity. Currently, both business and commercial aircraft are able to provide aircraft broadband at increasingly higher speeds and bandwidth, with many employing the Inmarsat satellite network, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect, who provide passenger connectivity exclusively for business jets.

Business passengers are probably the most demanding when it comes to aircraft broadband, as they want and need to continue working onboard as effectively as they can in their ground-based office environments.

cabinconnectGXIn a recent report from aviation analysts, it was found that the prices passengers are paying for inflight Wifi varies wildly, with some airlines offering a free service, and others charging up to £30.

So why the huge difference? Some providers say that the cost of installation of the aircraft system is a significant contributor to the high cost, yet it seems to be mostly the budget airlines offering free access, surprisingly.

Another complaint from passengers is the speed and quality of inflight Wifi. Onboard internet can be provided in two ways – via satellite communications or via air-to-ground communications systems. The air-to-ground option delivers higher speeds, but satellite is necessary for connectivity over oceanic expanses.

A growing number of airline passengers require inflight Wifi. Some commercial passengers want access to social media, or want to stream information, but others require access for business purposes. Executive travellers can often ‘charge’ inflight Wifi to their business expenses, but others are simply refusing to pay high prices that can be comparable with the cost of a monthly broadband fee at home.

Airlines need to look at their options, as it appears that the provision of inflight Wifi may become a source of competition amongst the airline community as time goes by.

Other Providers of Superfast Onboard WiFi | Business Aviation NewsVirgin America’s passengers will soon be able to make the most of their Netflix membership during flights thanks to a new partnership agreement between the airline and the online media provider.

Using the aircraft’s onboard WiFi, Netflix programmes will be accessible via live streaming to passenger’s personal devices at no additional cost.

Airline connectivity is a booming market as passenger demand grows and competitive packages increase in availability across the industry. Faster WiFi via the latest satellite technology enables the opportunity for live streaming and improved access for passengers using their mobile devices.

As the demand for passenger connectivity soars, Gogo have announced that it has received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its latest 2Ku satellite service. They are hoping for a successful launch later this year for commercial aircraft.

Passengers on commercial planes today want to be able to use the internet onboard and the competition is hotting up amongst the providers.

Rockwell Collins’ Cabin Connect, powered by Inmarsat SwiftBroadband and with plans for the additional speed capabilities of GX later this year, allows for live streaming, video calling and surfing the internet from the passenger’s seat on the aircraft.

The video below shows how.

Worldwide Cabin Services ProvidersIt was announced at MEBA this month that Emteq, U.S. aviation products providers and China-based Haeco Private Jet Solutions have partnered to allow Haeco to deliver Emteq’s eConnect portfolio of IFE, Cabin Services and connectivity package, who will integrate the systems for cabin completion and refurbishment clients.

Haeco claim that the first Boeing business jet based in Asia has contracted them to engineer and integrate an eConnect Router and wireless IFE system. The install project will integrate with the existing cabin services package as an add-on, effectively upgrading the system and providing a cost-effective solution.

As passenger demands grow for greater bandwidth and seamless on-board connectivity, more and more providers of Cabin Services find themselves continually pushing the envelope with the latest technology at the most competitive prices.

Personal devices play an important role within the Cabin Services industry today as satellite communications technology delivers the reliability that is required on board the modern business jet.

Inflight Connectivity Providers for Business AviationMiddle Eastern & African airlines are exploring solutions to boost passenger numbers, while making improvements to operational productivity, efficiency and connectivity across all areas of operations.

Throughout the region, the market is coming into its own with Wi-Fi connectivity at the top of the list for passenger satisfaction. Consequently, this sector is becoming competitive as companies vie for the best connections at the best prices.

WirelessG, a South African-based Wi-Fi telecommunications provider has made claims to have launched the world’s first mobile service offering customers a 3G/4G data bundle that can be used on the ground or in the air – 3G, ADSL, Wi-Fi and In-flight Wi-Fi – on a single online platform. There are still technical issues, according to their CEO.

“The Ku-band satellite service we received was relatively very stable. Our airline partner did an excellent job in supporting the service onboard,” says Mr van de Merwe. “Our major problem for two years was that we could not get our in-flight Wi-Fi services out of the ‘beta’ stage in order to meet the telecommunications uptime standards we are used to when providing Wi-Fi on the ground. In our specific case, we have had too many in-flight Wi-Fi hardware problems over our first two years.”

“You cannot fix a plane while it is flying,” he continued. “You have to wait for a suitable time at minimum opportunity cost to the airline. That can take between one week and one month. A new benchmark for in-flight Wi-Fi technology solution providers is therefore to provide and support onboard in-flight telecommunications solutions that support a telecommunications carrier grade model with reliability standards that at least match aviation operation service schedules. Maybe our standards and expectations are too high at this point in time, but we refuse to take our service out of beta until it meets our standards.”

Across the world, the demand for in-flight connectivity is increasing and not just in the cabin. Applications for real-time information on the flight deck also enhances the experience for the flight crew. Swift decision making can be facilitated by reliable connectivity, yet to be completely effective, the system required seamless connections with smooth band-switching.

Other Providers of Business Aircraft Passenger ConnectivitySmartSky are ready to announce the launch of their new 4G Internet service for business jets, after developing in secret for three years.

Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky Networks is pleased to finally share the news with the aviation world and will conduct an official ‘airing’ of his new product at this month’s NBAA exhibition.

High-speed internet access on business jets is not a brand new concept, with many other communications solutions on the market, such as the end-to-end solutions delivered by industry-leader, ARINC Direct, but SmartSky 4G is being launched as ‘the nation’s first airborne 4G LTE-based technology’ and promises speeds up to 10 times faster than current systems.

Utilising air-to-ground datalink, the network will access 60MHz of spectrum, which compares with 4MHz in most in-flight internet provision.

“This is going to be really, really important,” said Stone. “We’ve been developing this in stealth mode for three years. It feels good to finally be able to share.”

SmartSky is currently selecting test clients to begin its beta testing program next year, with a view to general release to the business aviation sector in 2016 on a subscription basis. Ultimately, Mr Stone wants to see his system in commercial airliners in the future.

Enhanced Cabin Services with Rockwell CollinsFollowing a recent GX Aviation Added Value Reseller deal with Inmarsat, Rockwell Collins have announced enhancements to their ARINC Cabin Connect suite, the company’s leading in-flight connectivity for cabin services platform. The enhancements will benefit both passengers and airlines as the latest Ka-band services bring greater possibilities to the aviation industry.

Rockwell Collins will use the increased bandwidth and high-speed connectivity to offer real-time TV and TV on-demand in addition to the launch of a new capability that will give passengers the opportunity to use mobile phones onboard to send and receive, where approved, SMS messages and make voice calls over the internet.

Airlines will notice an immediate benefit with Cabin Connect, as the elimination of the need for separate on-board cell phone and Wi-Fi network equipment will significantly reduce weight and installation costs, while allowing extra potential for value-added services.

“Our knowledge of how communications platforms work, combined with our systems integration expertise, enables Rockwell Collins to create solutions that meet the specific needs of our global aviation customers,” said Michael DiGeorge, vice president of international and global airports for Rockwell Collins. “Expanding our ARINC Cabin Connect capabilities through Inmarsat’s high-speed service will provide airlines and their customers with new services designed to meet the ever-growing demand for accessing information and in-flight entertainment.”

Another benefit in addition to passenger connectivity using Cabin Connect will be the new tools designed to enhance airline efficiency. Rockwell Collins’ information management capabilities feature a dashboard that will allow airlines to access monitoring for system-critical elements including cabin applications utilisation and fleet information.

“Because we offer nose-to-tail solutions, we have a tremendous amount of valuable information we can provide to airlines about their aircraft,” said DiGeorge. “With this dashboard, we are putting that information into an easy-to-use format that helps airlines to improve their operational decision making.”

Other Leading Providers of Business Aviation ServicesIt has been announced that Aircell, Gogo Inc’s business aviation communications provider, has been rebranded to firmly define the company’s two divisions – commercial and business aviation – and will now be known as Gogo Business Aviation.

Business aviation service providers bring aircraft communications services to the business aviation sector exclusively. Many providers have two divisions, as the requirements differ hugely in each sector.

Aircell has been trading since 1991 and are well-known for in-flight connectivity and Wi-Fi solutions using satellite network availability.

“Gogo’s mission is to advance aviation by connecting every aircraft with the most trusted communications services on and above our planet. Having our commercial and business aviation divisions share a brand will make more people aware of the full breadth of our business,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “The rebranding will also help travellers recognize their favourite Gogo services, whether they’re aboard an airline, corporate, fractional or charter aircraft – anywhere in the world”.

“We’re thrilled to introduce Gogo Business Aviation as the next evolution of our brand,” said Gogo Business Aviation’s executive vice president and general manager, John Wade. “The past five years has seen a remarkable menu of in-flight capabilities emerge for business aircraft operators, including Internet, e-mail, voice, texting, personal smartphone usage, movies, TV episodes, news, weather, cockpit data and more. And at the same time, the onboard equipment has become orders-of-magnitude smaller, lighter and more affordable. These truly are exciting times.”

The rebranded division will also be relocating its headquarters to larger premises a short distance away to fully appreciate the focus of its market, while continuing to share expertise and technology, in addition to the brand name.

In-flight Connectivity Solutions ProvidersBritish satellite communications company, Inmarsat has announced its intention to deliver high-speed, EU-wide in-flight connectivity with a unique integrated telecommunications network including an order for a new s-band satellite, Europasat.

“We believe that the same in-flight connectivity opportunity exists in Europe and that, with the support of EU telecoms regulators, Inmarsat can rapidly bring to market unique, high speed aviation passenger connectivity services to meet this market demand on an EU-wide basis,” said Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce.

Inmarsat capabilities already include seamless coverage via Global Xpress and will place them ahead of the competition for in-flight connectivity for passengers.

Widespread interest is being shown by major airlines and passengers could soon be looking forward to the same connectivity that is currently only enjoyed by the business aviation community, with the deployment of Europe’s first 4G broadband network.

Currently, the company are working on shared system to reduce initial costs in partnership with Hellas-Sat, a non-competing European satellite operator and Thales Alenia Space for the construction of a satellite on a shared basis. Europasat will also support the next-gen emergency network services for public protection and disaster relief.

The aviation network deployment, planned for the end of 2016, will be enabled by Inmarsat’s current existing authorisation to operate integrated satellite and terrestrial communications in 30MHz of S-band frequencies spanning the 28 Member States of the European Union. The licensing process has already begun with EU member states and Inmarsat has received strong support for its application from a high number of EU telecommunications regulators. It is hoped that a consistent regulatory foundation can be accomplished quickly in order to facilitate the swift implementation of the services for the benefit of businesses and passengers across the EU.