Dassault Aviation has become the third business jet OEM to add ViaSat’s Ku-band in-flight connectivity system to its catalogue as a linefit option, and the satellite company is “in discussions” with other business aviation manufacturers with a view to adding them to the fold.

ViaSat announced during the show a multi-year agreement with Dassault for its broadband connectivity solution to be installed on the Falcon 8X from the middle of this year.

James Person, director of ViaSat’s business aviation and VVIP division, tells Flight Evening News that while the agreement with Dassault relates to the Ku-band service, the French manufacturer is also “pre-wiring the 8X for our new Ka-band offering”.

ViaSat launched its Exede In the Air Ka-band connectivity service in the business aviation market earlier this year, although it has not disclosed who its launch customers were. However, until two additional satellites – ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 – are launched in 2017 and 2019, respectively, Exede coverage is not global and is limited to the USA and Europe.

When ViaSat-2 launches, coverage will extend to include the Caribbean, Central America and the air bridge between North America and Europe. “Many business aviation [customers] operate in that region, so as early as 2017 we will see the Falcons switch over to Ka,” says Person.

He describes Dassault’s decision to start with the Ku-band offering as “future-proofing”, noting that as coverage matches where operators fly to “they can switch to Ka”. Once global Ka-band coverage is achieved, ViaSat will still continue to run its Ku service “for a few years after”, says Person.

Dassault joins Gulfstream and Bombardier as business jet OEMs that offer ViaSat’s connectivity system as a linefit option. Person says that ViaSat is “having discussions with all the OEMs” about linefit installations on their larger business jet models.

With in-flight connectivity demand strong in the business aviation market, Person says ViaSat is “really only limited by the capacity of the MROs and OEMs to do the installs”.

Source: Flight Daily News