Global in-flight Internet comes to light cabin aircraft

Thrane 200 new.JPG

It’s no secret that this RWG loves an ultra-high-speed Internet connection, be it on the ground or in the air. But for smaller aircraft especially, many would argue that it makes little sense for operators to bolt on the far larger, heavier equipment required to bring that sort of service to the cabin or cockpit.

Enter Thrane & Thrane, whose Aviator 200 system with Wi-Fi capability works quite nicely on the light cabin airplanes of the world (Including UAVs!).The Aviator 200 system uses Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband SB200 service (global coverage except for the poles), which offers up to 200Kbps ‘always-on’ IP connection and a simultaneous low-cost, high quality voice channel.

“Designed specifically for small satcom terminals to allow for an easier and more cost effective installation, the SwiftBroadband SB200 service enables aircraft owners and operators to take advantage of a host of affordable in-flight services including voice calls, text messaging, emailing, Internet surfing and much more,” says Andy Beers, director of aeronautical sales for the Americas region, Thrane & Thrane.

He notes, however, that the application for Wi-Fi enabled products “reaches far beyond passenger use in the cabin and has begun to filter into the cockpit providing pilots and crew with access to extensive data at their fingertips. This is already proving useful for flight crews, offering access to real-time weather updates for example, and has sparked much debate about the replacement of traditional processes with this modern and innovative technology in the future.”

Thrane and Thrane partner Banyan Air Service shows us how the Aviator 200 brings a real-time satellite weather image upload into the cabin of a Citation in the following video (courtesy of Banyan):
 

Banyan developed the STC for the Aviator 200′s installation aboard Cessna 500, 550, S550, 552, 560, and 560XL aircraft. The system has also successfully gained a STC developed by Hawker Beechcraft, “and we are pleased to report its well on the way to receiving a third STC”, says Beers.

As for future developments, he adds: “Who knows what could be next and it’s inspiring for us at Thrane & Thrane to imagine where potential technology advancements could take us. Five years ago the capability to use the Internet and email from the cabin was an exciting prospect and now full ‘office in the sky’ functionality has become a reality, even for small aircraft. Technology is continuously evolving and just as we think we’ve reached the limit, a new wave of developments surface which change everything, again.”

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2 Responses to Global in-flight Internet comes to light cabin aircraft

  1. Jod Wayde March 4, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    Hello MK,

    good entry blog. This is a good feed-back from the possibility you can explore with SB200, that seems to completely satisfy heavy users on board these VIP and corporate A/C.
    For up to 20 heavy users, SB200 is more than enough, including some high consuming downloads such as Graphical Weather maps and “cockpit” applications..

    And you have “only” 200 kbps. You can imagine why 2*SBB (providing 2*432 kbps), and soon 4*SBB channels (4 times 432 kbps on BOTH ways) is so popular within airlines these days.

    On top of that, when you remember that SPEED has nothing to do with BANDWIDTH (it is always good to refer to “It’s the latency, stupid” article :http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/rants/Latency.html ), you understand why Emirates, Singapore, TAM, Virgin, Qatar, vote for L-Band by plebiscite ….

    Have a nice day

    Jod

  2. Mary Kirby March 4, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Cheers Jod. I do understand the difference between speed and bandwidth but surely you appreciate that passengers have a certain perception of what “high-speed” entails, and that it is as akin to the home office experience.