North American air-ground communications provider AirCell (booth 4244) yesterday unveiled a uniquely flexible satellite communications solution for operators of medium to large corporate aircraft.

BlumensteinThe company’s new Axxess system offers a basic two Iridium channels for voice and narrowband data services, with provision for the addition of two more channels. But what makes Axxess really stand out is its ability, via an Ethernet port, to integrate Inmarsat Swift-family broadband data.
Other features include a full 802.11b/g WiFi hotspot, allowing personal laptops, personal data assistants (PDA) and other wireless devices in the cabin to work with the broadband connection. Federal Aviation Administration-certificated handsets incorporate large color displays, advanced noise-cancelling technology, and standard earbud/headset jacks for clear, quiet calling.

“An operator can equip an aircraft with Axxess and then easily add capabilities and even change networks to take advantage of new technologies,” says AirCell chief executive Jack Blumenstein. “Our customers won’t have to worry about being locked into a static set of capabilities. An operator can use the system’s two built-in Iridium channels today, for example, and plug in his choice of broadband as faster and faster networks emerge in the future.”

Axxess hardware is due be commercially available by mid-January. Pending FAA certification, the system’s wireless features and broadband compatibility will be offered from the second quarter of next year. AirCell is offering trade-in credit to customers upgrading to Axxess from a current AirCell product.

Cessna has already committed to offering Axxess as an option on its XLS, Sovereign and Citation X. “We expect many similar announcements in the future,” says Blumenstein.

Other Axxess features include short-burst data (SBD) and text messaging; office-style PBX functions for cabin and cockpit, including call routing, conference calling, call waiting and call queue; and an interface for cockpit flight information services.

The Inmarsat Swift64 64Kbit/s data option supports email and internet access, data updates for electronic flight bags and other operational applications, and Ethernet connectivity for WiFi-enabled handsets, PDAs and PCs.

In its basic configuration, Axxess comprises a two-channel satellite transceiver, a cabin telecommunications router and a dual-element Iridium patch antenna.

AirCell says that since entering large-scale commercial operations five years ago it has shipped over 3,500 airborne telecommunications system. It expects that this year alone it will deliver 1,100 systems, more than 50% better than its previous annual record. “We expect 2006 to be even more significant in terms of growth, further new products and enhancements, and key industry strategic partnering relationships,” says Blumenstein.

Source: Flight Daily News