EMS introduces portable, Iridium-based in-flight email system

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EMS Aviation has introduced a new, lightweight, cost-effective portable system that will enable aircraft operators to offer in-flight email via Iridium satellites.

The so-called Aspire Portable AirMail system can be carried on an aircraft, and connect to an existing Iridium antenna, for "near-instant access" to email through personal smartphones, says EMS.

"Once the system is connected, up to four passengers can send and receive email. And because permanent installation is not required, an operator can effortlessly carry the device from airplane to airplane, retaining connectivity on each flight, providing the pilot-in-command approves its use," adds EMS.

The new portable system is designed to take advantage of low-bandwidth devices, such as BlackBerrys and iPhones. "Its portability makes it ideal for Iridium antenna-equipped fixed-wing or helicopter operators who want to experience in-flight email without having to modify their aircraft," says John Jarrell, vice-president and general manager of EMS Aviation.

While EMS is targeting the business aviation/general aviation community, it is not excluding commercial use of AirMail because, says a spokeswoman, "in fact any aircraft that already has an Iridium antenna on it could conceivably use the device for email".

The system will be available in the second quarter this year.