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ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE FOR CONNECTIVITY
INCLUDING... Cabin Connectivity: Getting it Right First Time Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Next for Business Aircraft Cabin Connectivity? What Does Cabin Connectivity Cost?
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4 Getting it Right First Time
EDITORIAL Commissioning Editor Matthew Harris +44 (0)20 8939 7722 firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Contributor (USA Office) Dave Higdon email@example.com ADVERTISING Steve Champness - Publisher Americas 770 769 6872 Steve@avbuyer.com Lee McLoughlin - Account Director US Aircraft & Services Sales Freephone from USA: +1- 855 425 7638 firstname.lastname@example.org Matt Chappell - Account Manager US & Canada Aircraft & Services Sales Freephone from USA: +1- 855 425 7638 MattC@avbuyer.com Lise Margin - Account Manager US Aircraft Sales +1- 703 818 1024 email@example.com
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What’s Next for Cabin Connectivity
UK Head Office +44 (0)208 549 9508 STUDIO/PRODUCTION Helen Cavalli / Mark Williams +44 (0)20 8939 7726 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
16 What’s the Cost of Your Cabin Connectivity?
20 How to Keep Cabin Connectivity Affordable
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INTRODUCTION.qxp_JMesingerNov06 03/07/2020 10:36 Page 1
Welcome to the AvBuyer
Cabin Connectivity Special Commissioning Editor Matt Harris, AvBuyer
abin connectivity has been one of the fastest evolving areas of Business Aviation in recent years. We’ve watched an explosion in the developments of services and solutions in the sector – particularly where data-speed and areas of coverage are concerned. This has all been driven by the demands of the cabin occupants, of course – particularly those chartering business aircraft who, though they may not understand the hurdles that need to be overcome to receive fast, uninterrupted connectivity, still require seamless service for their carry-on devices so they can use them like they would just about
anywhere else on the planet. While the Business Aviation industry has worked wonders moving towards that goal, it remains an ongoing challenge for corporate flight departments and charter operators to educate the cabin occupants, setting realistic expectations and ensuring the bill for all of their data needs doesn’t come as a nasty surprise (either to the passengers or to them!). A big part of the puzzle is ensuring the right equipment is installed on the aircraft to provide the right amount of connectivity. Too little will lead to frustration, while too much will lead to costs that cannot be justified.
In this Issue The range of products available today, and the costs associated with those products can be a daunting proposition for anyone searching for the right equipment to suit the needs of the cabin occupants aboard their aircraft. AvBuyer has developed this Connectivity Special issue to provide practical insights and tips – from starting the selection process, to keeping an eye on what may be available in the future, to understanding the costs, and then controlling the costs of cabin connectivity. Among our writers in this special issue, industry expert Brian Wilson shares some insights on how to choose the right system for your aircraft, based on the projected flight profile and the type of connectivity required for that profile (i.e. Air-to-Ground or Satellite). Chris Kjelgaard asks Collins Aerospace and Viasat about the future developments of cabin connectivity. Is it all about data speed, or are there other possible developments
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ahead that business aircraft operators should be aware of? And with such a vast array of solutions available, it’s important to ensure you don’t over-pay for cabin connectivity. David Wyndham shares insights on four key factors to consider when justifying what you spend on your cabin connectivity, and provides a rough outline of what the installed costs of the possible solution might be, along with the associated data usage charges. Finally, if you’ve already got your system installed but are looking for ways to better control the monthly bill, Rebecca Applegarth speaks with Gogo Business Aviation’s Brian Wilson and Viasat’s James Person to get seven tips on keeping cabin connectivity affordable. We hope the content within this special edition is helpful to you. If you have any ideas for future areas of Cabin Connectivity coverage, do get in touch with AvBuyer – we’d love to hear from you! ❙
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CONNECTIVITY Brian Wilson is the Director, Key Accounts at Gogo Business Aviation, an industry-leading provider of inflight connectivity and entertainment solutions. Prior to Gogo, he sat on numerous Dealer Advisory Boards along with being a member of the AEA Board of Directors.
Cabin Connectivity: Getting it Right First Time! Why is it important to consider your cabin connectivity before you even buy your next jet? Brian Wilson discusses the value of asking the right questions to get the right solution installed first time…
hroughout my career, I’ve been personally involved in many aircraft transitions. Most involved charter customers purchasing and owning their first aircraft, or operators upgrading from a Small or Mid-size Jet to a Super Mid-size or Large Cabin Jet. Typically, during the pre-buy inspection the owner arrives with their spouse and a designer. Much attention is paid to the aesthetics of the aircraft: A new paint livery; a change of carpet; reupholstering the seats; a new expresso machine… 4 Vol 24 Issue 6 2020 AVBUYER MAGAZINE
It’s during the maiden flight that the new owner quickly realizes they didn’t devote the time they should to ensure they’d be properly ‘connected’. Previously, that was something the charter company took care of. Or in the smaller jet they only flew domestic trips, but now the flight profile has changed, so have the connectivity needs. If you’re looking to become a first-time business aircraft owner, or plan to upsize soon, what are the things you can do to ensure you address your connectivity needs in full, before flying the aircraft away to its new home? www.AVBUYER.com
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How to Get it Right First Time
Start by reassessing your flight profile. Set a time to meet with the primary passengers, and make sure you include the flight crew. (You may find that you have two different profiles if the aircraft will be used for both business and personal flying.) An open discussion should focus on the following:
• Will the aircraft be used for both domestic and international flights? • What is the expected percentage split flying domestically and internationally? • Do the passengers need to have connectivity on every flight? • What will be the normal passenger load? In addition, you should define the expectations that must be met regarding connectivity: • Would light internet browsing and email be enough? • Do the passengers require streaming, video conference, social media and live content? www.AVBUYER.com
(Based on experience, passengers will expect connectivity on every flight, and they will want it to perform as close to what they have on the ground.) Don’t rush discussion of these questions. Define your needs clearly, because the next step will be to allocate funding to support the upgrade. Another factor beyond the monetary costs, is the downtime that will be required for the installation/upgrade. This can range from two to four weeks (or more). While most upgrades are made during a maintenance interval, if your aircraft just came through a pre-buy inspection, there might not be an inspection with the necessary downtime coming any time soon.
Connectivity for Domestic Flying
Small to Mid-size business aircraft have limitations, both in the distance they can fly and the fuselage size (to support a larger antenna required for higher bandwidth). So there might not be a direct correlation between passenger expectations and a viable solution.
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“Do the passengers require streaming, video conference, social media and live content?” In the US: Gogo Business Aviation has an Air-toGround (ATG) system capable of meeting all the needs described above. Nearly 6,000 business jets in the US rely on Gogo’s exclusive ATG network to keep passengers connected. Whether the aircraft is used for business or pleasure, the bandwidth provides everything from simple email and web browsing to streaming movies. Numerous pricing options and a dedicated customer portal allow convenient control and monitoring of data usage and costs. Outside the US: The most common solution is Swift Broadband (SBB). SBB supports data speeds between 200Kbps and 432Kbps, which is enough for simple web browsing and emails with small attachments. The data speeds are predicated by the size of the antenna. • • •
Low Gain Antenna (LGA): 200Kbps Intermediate Gain Antenna (IGA): 332Kbps High Gain Antenna (HGA): 432Kbps
Note: Almost all Small to Mid-Size business aircraft will be limited to the LGA or IGA solution. 6 Vol 24 Issue 6 2020 AVBUYER MAGAZINE
Although the data speeds are modest, pricing for data consumption can be relatively expensive, requiring constant monitoring to avoid nasty surprises in your monthly bill.
Connectivity for International Flying
The Super Mid-size to Large Cabin business jets have the advantage of a larger fuselage, most of which can support a tail-mounted antenna. This opens up the possibility of faster speeds and more options. Among those options are Swift Broadband (SBB) and both Ka- and Ku-band systems. As highlighted in the smaller aircraft connectivity options, SBB utilizing the HGA has a maximum speed of 432Kbps. However, service providers offer compression and acceleration features which can extend the speed closer to 1Mbps. In recent years, SBB has taken a back seat to Kaand Ku- band systems. Although still used for data on many aircraft, its primary role is now essentially for safety services. Ka- and Ku-band systems dominate the market for connectivity on larger aircraft because they deliver similar experiences to the cabin as a passenger would enjoy on the ground. Discussing specific data speeds and which band is
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“...both Ku- and Ka-band deliver data rates in excess of 10Mbps and passengers can now enjoy streaming of content, social media and video conferencing in-flight.” better is the topic for a future article, but both Kuand Ka-band deliver data rates in excess of 10Mbps and passengers can now enjoy streaming of content, social media and video conferencing in-flight. While designed to cover the major air traffic routes of the world, these satellite-based systems do not provide complete global coverage, however, so be sure to review their respective coverage maps. Monthly data plans can also be quite expensive, so take time to choose the one that fits both your flight profile and your budget.
Be Sure to Plan for the Future
Before making that final commitment to invest in a connectivity solution, take the time to confirm the system is scalable, and will not be obsolete in a few years. Ask the MRO to provide a roadmap for future upgrades. (The MRO is the dealer that represents the vendor, and they are required to train their staff to quote and install the product correctly.) It is also worth having a representative from the vendor present to ensure the information presented is correct, and this can be done in person or virtually. Be aware that it’s quite possible that even if the t ad re ou Re Mo Ab
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system is scalable you will have to add hardware and/or software updates later. Nevertheless, the system you are about to install should be the foundation to any future additions. As an example, Gogo’s new AVANCE L5 (4G) connectivity system, once installed, becomes the groundwork for Gogo’s ‘Next Gen Gogo 5G’ component, due to start delivering in late 2021. In this case, operators can have the confidence that what they’re installing today, will facilitate the next generation of technology. For satellite operators who have a Ka- and Kuband hybrid system, the product is designed so an LRU change (or even just a software change) will satisfy the future upgrade. Doing proper due diligence today on your inflight connectivity solution will protect you from coyly needing to approach the boss in a few years’ time to inform him that a completely new installation is required to get better connectivity. Unlike when you are on the ground, you can’t just buy a new phone, tablet or laptop to make the change mid-air. Far more thought needs to go into your planning process. ❙
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Chris Kjelgaard has been an aviation journalist for 40 years. He has served as editor of ten print and online titles and written extensively on many aspects of aviation. He also copy-edits most major documents published by a global aviation industry trade association.
Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Next for Business Aircraft Cabin Connectivity? What has been changing in the business aircraft cabin connectivity sector recently, and how might developments lead to even more advancements in the future? Chris Kjelgaard asks Dori Henderson (Collins Aerospace) and James Person (Viasat)â&#x20AC;Ś
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or all aircraft operators, the COVID-19 pandemic will change the landscape in various ways throughout the next few years. This applies just as much to the business aircraft cabin connectivity market. “I think it's too late to ignore the effects of COVID-19 on our industry,” says Dori Henderson, executive director, Business & Government Aviation, Collins Aerospace. “It's here and it's not letting go any time soon. “We had been planning for some new Low Earth Orbit (LEO) entries into the satellite connectivity market. Although it's hard to predict any success they may have had, it's certain they would have shaken-up the existing market and provided a competitive environment.” Though the pandemic will have other implications for Business Aviation, the gradual recovery need not represent entirely bad news for the cabin connectivity market, for two reasons.
First, says James Person, senior director, global business development, Viasat’s Business Aviation & VVIP Group, Business Aviation may well benefit from a reluctance on the part of business travellers to return to crowded commercial airports and airliner cabins, where the risks of infection might remain high. [As the first round of the COVID-19 pandemic gradually recedes globally] “We’re hearing from charter and corporate operators that they see a wider use of business jets for [executives’ and managers’] own protection, and for making those people more productive,” says Person. That productivity will come from providing business aircraft passengers with in-flight connectivity speeds in the cabin that are comparable to those they’re accustomed to in the office and at home. Second, adds Henderson, “Given the short-term effects that COVID-19 has had on the aviation and maritime satellite connectivity industry, I will speculate that network service providers will attempt to re-provision currently underutilized bandwidth for markets that could provide the largest returns soonest. “Cruise liners and Commercial Aviation will take longer for their usage levels to return compared to Business Aviation, and that opens the possibility of faster plans and incentives for business aircraft operators.”
Today’s High-Speed Connectivity Services
With that said, “re-provisioning of bandwidth is not necessary to secure high-speed connectivity” in today’s business aircraft cabins, Henderson adds. Some cabin-connectivity service providers, Viasat and Collins among them, already offer excellent bandwidth and very high bit rates to operators. Collins does so with its LuxStream service, which uses transponders on 15 Ku-Band satellites orbited by SES in the past few years to provide business aircraft cabins with bit rates of 15Mb/second per passenger, globally, and as high as 25Mb over the US. Viasat has a broader existing service offering, providing connectivity up to 10Mb/second, per passenger through the 12 to 18GHz Ku-Band spectrum using leased transponders on satellites, and also 16Mb/second connectivity on a perpassenger basis through the 28-to-40GHz Ka-Band spectrum, using the company’s own satellites. Its 10Mb/second Ku-Band coverage is available globally by means of Viasat’s ‘Ku Advanced’ service, while the 16Mb-per-second Ka-Band service is available over North and Central America, Europe and the Middle East. For LargeCabin business jets, Viasat can combine its Ku-Band and Ka-Band offerings.
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“By the end of 2022 Viasat aims to orbit three new ViaSat 3 Ka-Band satellites.” Shifting the Pricing Paradigm
The per-passenger bit rates that services such as LuxStream and Viasat’s various services now provide have “really shifted the connectivity business model paradigm,” Henderson argues. “Customers will experience more attractive service pricing as they no longer pay for speed.” For example, Person says when previous generation cabin-connectivity services were priced by the megabit, and per-person bandwidth was only about 400Kb/second, the per-Mb rate was about $5. Now ViaSat prices its Ku Advanced service at a monthly flat rate, (i.e. a monthly 30Gb capacity for under $7,000), which is equivalent to a per-Mb rate of about 23 cents. Ku Advanced flat-rate monthly pricing starts at just under $5,000, says Person. Combined with a per-aircraft, flyaway hardwareinstallation cost starting at less than $350,000 (down from $500,000 just two years ago), its flatrate pricing makes Viasat’s Ku Advanced attractive for operators of business jets which have lower hull values or are now out of production, according to Person. Person notes that with many business aircraft not flying as much as they were before the pandemic, some corporate and charter operators
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using Viasat’s Ku Advanced service have switched from monthly flat-rate plans to the alternative perflight-hour pricing Viasat also offers.
What’s Coming Next for Cabin Connectivity?
By the end of 2022 Viasat aims to orbit three new ViaSat 3 Ka-Band satellites. Each satellite will offer 1 terabit (1,000Gb) of overall bandwidth enabling the company to increase the per-person in-cabin bandwidth of its Ka-Band service for business aircraft to 32Mb/second, according to Person. The first ViaSat 3, due to be launched in H2 2021, will be orbited in a position where its coverage will include all of the Americas. In H1 2022, the second ViaSat 3 will be launched into an orbital position where its coverage will include all of Europe and the Middle East. Finally, in H2 2022 the third ViaSat 3 will be orbited where its coverage will include all of Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and Oceania. Existing ViaSat BizAv Ka-Band service users will automatically benefit. “People are future-proofed,” Person says—and for new customers, the flyaway hardware-installation cost will remain the same as it is now – $500,000 without the optional cabin router, $600,000 with router included. It’s expected that such a marked increase in
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“That productivity will come from providing business aircraft passengers with in-flight connectivity speeds in the cabin that are comparable to those they’re accustomed to in the office and at home.” bandwidth will lead service providers and equipment OEMs to create new applications to take advantage. “On the cabin entertainment side, I can envisage holographic representation of 3D images,” for both video-conference meetings and for entertainment, predicts Person. “Higher-andhigher-definition [2D] video, from HD going to 4K,” would also result. “We can also use this connectivity to help out on the operational side and to prevent AOG events,” Person adds. “Today, data from the engines and the aircraft is not transmitted off the aircraft in real time,” (the result of the very limited bandwidth previous-generation cabin connectivity services offer). However, with very fast Ka-Band service, “if you need to transmit a few hundred kilobytes of data [on engine and aircraft condition] anomalies, you could do it.” This would give the operator’s
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maintenance staff instant notice of potential technical issues affecting the aircraft and allow them to plan accordingly, preventing or mitigating AOG events. Collins Aerospace also thinks new applications will be developed to take advantage of the cabin’s increased connectivity capabilities. “We believe that delivering a customized experience for passengers, pilots, directors of maintenance or other stakeholders is the future,” Henderson concludes. “Whether you are a director of maintenance managing the cabin connectivity status, or a charter operator looking to optimize your fleet’s connectivity cost, having access to real-time insights at your fingertips is essential.” More information from www.collinsaerospace.com or www.viasat.com ❙
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First immersive virtual reality training for Business Aviation customers launched Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to ensure world-class support for our global customer base. As part of our IntelligentEngine vision we are further expanding the use of immersive Virtual Reality technology for customer training. The latest addition to the remote training program is an instructor led distance learning course, providing a comprehensive overview of the construction, design and operation of the BR725 engine that powers Gulfstream’s current flagship G650 business aircraft family. After completion of this comprehensive two-day training course, participants will be able to service the engine and undertake nonroutine maintenance. Andy Robinson, SVP Customers and Services - Business Aviation, said: “Rolls-Royce has been the leading engine supplier for business aircraft for more than two decades thanks to our
continued commitment to the highest levels of service support. We are tremendously proud to have been voted number one in the latest Engine Product Support Services Survey of Aviation International News (AIN) by our operators. Digitalization plays a vital role in bringing our IntelligentEngine vision to life; we use it to design, test and maintain our engines. This new immersive live Virtual Training tool is nothing short of a game-changer - it
makes us the leader in technical training and allows customers to participate in the new training, wherever they are in the world. They just need an internet connection, and the required VR equipment, which will be shipped directly to their door,” Andy added. While not intended to completely replace practical training, we see the value Virtual Reality adds for our customers, such as higher flexibility and the elimination of the need to ship a fullsize training engine. The user finds himself as part of two realistic scenarios – the engine installed on the aircraft in a virtual hangar and the BR725 engine alone, just like it would be in our inperson training courses. The immersive environment allows them not only to watch the process steps to get familiar with the respective task, but to interact with the engine and the tools, and actually accomplish the task under the constant supervision of the instructor.
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What are the Costs of Your Cabin Connectivity? David Wyndham offers a rough guide to the costs of cabin connectivity, and details the factors that determine what is the right amount for you to be paying... n most urban areas, Wi-Fi is second only to oxygen as being expected for free. These days, commuter buses and rail services offer it – mostly at no cost – to fare-paying passenger. Bars, coffee shops and restaurants also provide it along with water and breadsticks. In a fixed location, provision of Wi-Fi is relatively inexpensive. For slow-moving vehicles, as long as they’re operating in more populated areas Wi-Fi is also affordable. All of these options use cellular towers to send and receive the signals, and a small transmitter (or several) to disperse the signal. Where Wi-Fi is concerned, aircraft complicate matters. Nevertheless, today’s passengers expect Wi-Fi on the airplane in the same way they receive it on the commuter rail. In North America, many of the airlines have a WiFi provision, ranging from free of charge up to $20 for a day pass. These use Air-To-Ground (ATG) systems (such as the ubiquitous GoGo systems), which use cellular towers located across much of North America, and switching technologies that allow for smooth and continuous signals. Personal and business aircraft have similar ATG options that, thanks to growing technology, are
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smaller and lighter in weight than the systems available a few years ago. ATG systems are primarily limited to North America. Business jets travelling internationally have for many years communicated globally using satellite phones. While there are several different types of satellite systems with varying coverages, there are ultimately few places on the planet where a signal cannot be received – even on polar routes. Satellite systems that offer HD, streaming, and broadband are available.
Connectivity: How to Decide What You’ll Need to Pay? As we’ll discuss, costs vary between ‘costly’, going to ‘well beyond expensive’. (Of course, the costs you pay are all relative to the business sense for the system you use.) So, what are the main factors in the cabin connectivity puzzle that will help you choose the right amount of connectivity for your needs? Following are some of the key pieces… • Size: Powerful satellite-based systems weigh much more than an ATG system. What fits on an Ultra-Long-Range business jet will not fit on a Turboprop or Light Jet.
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David Wyndham is executive sales director and acquisition specialist with Par Avion Ltd. He is a highly respected industry veteran having built up more than 36 years of aviation experience, including as president and co-founder of Conklin & de Decker.
• Duration: How long are the flights you’ll be making? A 30-minute hop in a smaller Turboprop will not need the same system as flights lasting two hours. Short trips typically require some basic text and email capability. Longer trips (i.e. transcontinental and oceanic) require/use much more data of any kind. • Who: This consideration includes both flight crew and passengers. The more people needing to use the system, the more throughput (data volume per second) will be needed. Think of the data like water at home. One person washing their hands needs only a low flow/volume of water. Three people showering while the lawn is being watered need high flow/volume. Four passengers versus eight passengers plus crew will have different requirements to deliver the same performance. • What: In terms of throughput capacity, it is roughly ordered by text, email, browsing, calls, and live video streams. What are the data needs of your passengers? A www.AVBUYER.com
corporate shuttle may need strong email and some browsing capacity. A family flying for several hours with children may want to stream a couple of movies, or even live video games.
What is the Cost of Business Aircraft Connectivity?
Installation costs vary by system and by aircraft model. The antennas mount externally with connections, wiring and routers being internal. Different aircraft models present different challenges in antenna placement, as well as how and where wiring can be installed. In Large Cabin Jets especially, interior configurations not only dictate where equipment can be installed, but also signal strengths. The following costs are, therefore, approximate: • Basic ATG systems (for Turboprops and Light Jets, for example) can run between $100k-150k installed. These give you text, email, browsing and some voice capacity for four people. • Upgrading to a more powerful ATG can cost approximately $200k installed, but provides greater speeds and allows for video streaming.
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“...let passengers know what the costs are in terms the passengers understand. As an example, $6.95/Mb is less understood than $100 for a 30-minute television show.” •
Satellite-based systems vary even more, but plan on spending $650,000, or more, for the installation.
Data costs are also extremely variable and are based on how much data is consumed, along with the connection speed. • • •
Plan on up to $1,000 per month for basic ATG (less when flying infrequently or on short legs). ATG data fees for the higher speeds with a lot of use can run to $50,000 to $60,000 per year. Satellite systems that have High Definition, streaming and broadband can run as high as that monthly.
Closing Thoughts: Education, Control & Security
Charter operators that charge the user for the data need to let passengers know what the costs are in
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terms the passengers understand. As an example, $6.95/Mb is less understood than $100 for a 30minute television show. Moreover, not every flight will need the maximum data and speed capability available. Connectivity providers today offer options that reduce (throttle) the data stream when usage is low. Satellite providers monitor their satellites and air traffic, and can communicate with the crew in advance of flying into areas with poor coverage or high density use so they can warn passengers to reduce their usage while flying in those area. One last consideration is data security. If your company is working on truly secret data, the connection needs to be secure from airplane, to satellite, to ground server, to your corporate server. You can expect Enterprise- or even GovernmentCertified levels of security to add both cost and the need for skilled IT management. ❙
DAVID WYNDHAM ARTICLES
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How to Keep Cabin Connectivity Affordable What are some of the best ways to keep the costs of your cabin connectivity solution predictable and affordable? Rebecca Applegarth spoke with industry experts Brian Wilson and James Person to find out. he world of cabin connectivity is an exciting place of ground-breaking developments. With the solutions installed aboard some aircraft, data speeds are more-or-less akin to what passengers would experience on the ground with their iPhones, or in the office. But while in-flight connectivity is closing the gap on terrestrial connectivity in terms of speed, there’s still a very large difference in the costs between the two, leading to an unpleasant surprise to more than a few unwary business jet owners. There are, of course, steps owners can take to keep cabin connectivity affordable and predictable. The following are the top tips of Gogo Business Aviation’s Brian Wilson and Viasat’s James Person…
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1. Is it Time for an Upgrade?
Connectivity solutions that have high monthly bills coupled with a less than acceptable customer experience are frustrating for everyone involved. “The passengers are frustrated with how the system performs, and when the owner gets a bill they feel they have no control over the cost,” Wilson says. Once you reach this scenario, it’s time to consult a few MROs to see what other solutions are available. “The operator should summarize the three to five distinct reasons they are looking for a change, then make sure the new offers provide a viable fix to the problem.” Keep in mind there are many solutions available. But the one you choose does need to be certified for your particular aircraft model. www.AVBUYER.com
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3. Monitor the Usage
It is strongly recommended by Wilson that someone in the flight department monitors the usage after every flight, helping develop a user profile. “If the owner is middle-aged and flies mostly with his wife [or vice-versa], the usage pattern is going to be very different than if they chartered out the aircraft and a family with three teenage kids and their three friends are on board,” Wilson says. “When keeping your cabin connected in-flight, it can be very expensive if you do not properly maintain and document the costs efficiently. It can be easy to lose track of your spending.”
4. SWaP (Size Weight and Power) Matters…
2. Think About ‘Forward Compatibility’
Failing to anticipate future upgrades in the connectivity solution you choose, or the changing needs of your passengers could lead to unnecessary expense further down the line. Considering ‘forward compatibility’ is therefore vital, says Person. “Buyers should be looking to invest in hardware that is capable of functioning with the latest networks,” he notes, adding that new satellite-based systems offering faster speeds are established from time to time. “Having the ability to take advantage of tomorrow’s advanced technology without having to invest in an entire new system, a feature that Viasat offers across its current hardware and compatible radomes, can provide big cost savings in the long run. “A connectivity solution that can cope, and evolve with increases in internet connection speeds and bandwidth can help keep costs and aircraft downtime to a minimum.” Person adds that investing in a forwardcompatible system ensures that data intensive applications requiring more bandwidth such as VR/AR will be fully supported. www.AVBUYER.com
Size, weight and power make an impact on the affordability of cabin connectivity, too, according to Person. “The size and overall footprint of line replaceable units (LRUs), which make up the Wi-Fi solution, should be taken into consideration [as part of the overall cost of your connectivity solution],” he says. “A lower number of LRUs directly impacts the overall footprint required on board. “The weight of the in-flight connectivity equipment is important as every pound impacts fuel efficiency.” (For each pound of weight added to the aircraft, the incremental additional fuel burn rate per flight hour is 0.007 gallons squared, he explains.) “A rule of thumb is that a reduction in fuel consumption of about 0.75% results from each 1% reduction in weight. “An aircraft’s electrical components operate on many different voltages, both AC and DC,” Person says. “Be sure to investigate what kind of power the in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity system supports. Some solutions [like Viasat’s] support both.”
5. Be Aware of Your Data Allowance & Overages…
Using data beyond the agreed service plan can be a costly error for operators. Supplemental charges come once you absorb your allowance of data. For example, you may choose a monthly data plan of 10Gb that has $1.00/Mb cost for overage… “That charter flight with the kids (outlined previously) could be very costly due to the overage charges,” Wilson warns. “If you feel the owner will use up to 10Gb, factor in an ‘overage percentage’ and choose a 15Gb plan.” Reputable service providers that have a proven track record can, and should, provide analytics to help the client. “That means they can state that ‘on
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average we see 300-350Mb pre-hour used on our system’,” he clarifies. “With that information, the client can assume if they fly 30 hours per month, they will need a service plan that covers between 9,000Mb (9Gb) and 11,000Mb (11Gb), and then factor in a buffer for overages.”
6. Ensure the Systems Provide the Right Coverage
For aircraft travelling overseas, Person suggests a system providing global coverage is the key to maximizing the return on investment (ROI). To achieve global coverage, intelligent systems are able to automatically default to bands such as Ka- and leverage a Ku-band back-up service when outside of the Ka-band footprint, he details. “This seamless shift between Ka- and Ku-band networks delivers a continuous high-speed internet experience for passengers,” Person explains. “Today, Viasat offers global connectivity through our Ku Advanced network, and for customers looking for even greater performance and redundancy our Dual Band solution is the way to go. “These types of systems are designed so that aircraft are leveraging the best satellite network available for internet connectivity.” Person argues that in-flight Wi-Fi is one of the most recommended private jet upgrades, bringing with it a high return on investment. “Sourcing a global in-flight internet system that offers high speeds and forward compatibility is an effective way of protecting your investment and can result in as much as an 80% ROI, increasing overall resale value,” he says.
7. “Are you Not Entertained?” (You Should Be…)
Connectivity is a necessity for air travel, and staying connected for business reasons turns the aircraft into a working environment so you can run your business 22 Vol 24 Issue 6 2020 AVBUYER MAGAZINE
and stay in touch with those on the ground. However, “On many flights that have a leg longer than two hours,” says Wilson, “passengers start to look for ways to entertain themselves.” Systems that allow streaming can satisfy their needs by allowing them to do FaceTime, other social media, and even stream movies to the aircraft. “Although this satisfies the passenger, streaming data is very expensive and comes with no unlimited data plan,” he warns. Gogo Business Aviation provides a service called Gogo Vision (GGV). The company’s advanced line of products doesn't only offer internet connectivity; – the LRU comes fully loaded with movies and TV shows that can be streamed to personal devices or display on the cabin monitors. “The beauty of GGV is that it keeps the passengers fully entertained but does not use any data,” Wilson concludes.
So there you have it. For the operator who is mindful of the mission needs and the right service to satisfy those needs, in-flight connectivity doesn’t have to be unnecessarily expensive. Keeping open lines of communication with the service provider and your MRO shop, and doing the legwork to monitor utilization in-house, ought to give you a firm grasp of your data needs and actual usage, eliminating unpleasant surprises in the flight department cost column. More information from www.gogoair.com or www.viasat.com ❙
Rebecca Applegarth is an Aviation Journalist on the AvBuyer team.