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Viasat peers into future of onboard connectivity

With its Ka-band in-flight connectivity system now certificated for use on super-midsize business jets, satellite company Viasat is offering visitors to its stand a glimpse into the future of how it can enhance the onboard entertainment and working experience.

To highlight its unlimited streaming service, which is included in its largest data package, Viasat is demonstrating how augmented reality goggles can provide a more immersive way of consuming live entertainment content, or of feeling more connected to colleagues on the ground when videoconferencing in from the air.

"In the States, AT&T made an app available for augmented reality goggles, so if you have an AT&T subscription you can be on a business jet watching live TV on the goggles," says James Person, director of business development and strategy for Viasat's business and VVIP aviation division. "The goggles provide a flexible and interesting way to watch video and consume content."

Viasat announced at the show that it has secured a supplemental type certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration for its Global Aero Terminal 5510 Ka-band system for super-midsize business jets. The company announced at last year's EBACE that Embraer had become the first business jet OEM customer to sign up for the service, opting for line-fit installation on its Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 executive jets. This was followed later that year with the announcement that Gulfstream would offer the solution as a line-fit option on its G280 model.

While the OEMs have yet to publicly announce specific STCs, the system is already certificated for five platforms across two manufacturers, says Person. The system is installed and flying on two of the five platforms.

"Two more OEMs and more than a dozen more platforms are in progress and will be done by the end of the year," he adds.

The main difference between the commercial airline sector and the business aviation market is that the latter is "less concerned about the frequency band", says Person. Viasat provides both Ku- and Ka-band connectivity services to the business aviation market and is seeing increasing demand for both systems to be installed on the same aircraft.

"For operators who already have Ku, they're keeping the Ku and adding Ka. This gives redundancy and global coverage," says Person, adding that Viasat is committed to continuing to offer Ku to business aviation operators "for at least six or seven years".

Universal Avionics

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