Miles Bailey, AVIAÂ Supply Chain

I struggle to go more than 30 min without looking at my phone, especially when I’m traveling for work. And yet, private jet users are happy to go hours with no form of connectivity every time they get airborne. Satellite telephones became mainstream on board private jets around the turn of the millennium, and with good connectivity now available on most domestic US and International flights, it is only a matter of time before the same level of connectivity becomes expected by savvy consumers.

With this connective inevitability, every jet owner and operator should be investing in broadband connection for their aircraft. So where do you start? Step one: identify the technology that works for you. In the next section we break down the benefits of each option. Step two: hardware. Having the most up to date hardware not only enables the best connection, but also helps maintain the value of your aircraft.

Understanding the Technologies

In this post we’ll be focusing on broadband communication. Just as mobile communication evolved from GPRS to EDGE, then EDGE into 3G and on to 4G & 5G, online data technology standards have changed.

  • L-Band. Considering the established technology, L-Band is a viable solution for most private jets. It offers data at around 432kb/s. While not fast, it is available worldwide, with the smallest equipment, which can be fitted to most aircraft without a great degree of difficulty. There are multiple L-Band product solutions available, from a full-featured wireless internet solution to the ability to use your own handset to make calls and send SMS messages.
  • Ka and Ku Band. These systems are starting to overtake traditional L-Band. Broadly speaking Ka and Ku band are able to offer significantly faster speeds (up to 12mb/s for Ku and 30-50mb/s for Ka). However, as these bands are still emerging technologies, there are significantly more Ku band satellites in orbit than Ka. The result being that while it is considerably faster, Ka band is not available worldwide.
  • ATG. The future technology for data transmission lies in Air to Ground communication, also known as ATG. This uses a network of ground stations to provide data speeds of up to around 100mb/sec. This is already available throughout North America and is ideal for business aircraft operating solely in this area. Another helpful feature of ATG systems is that the antennae and onboard equipment are reasonably small and have a low profile, which is great for private jets where external real estate is at a premium and efficiency is important. And since this method of communication is ground-based, the antennae goes below the aircraft and not above. This area is more accessible than above the cabin, with the majority of the aircraft’s wiring loom being below the aircraft, leading to a quicker install time.

How Can AVIAÂ Help?

We work with a number of data and equipment providers to deliver not only savings, but also the help and advice owners and flight departments need.

  • We have partnered with Volare Aviation to supply GoGo equipment at a 10% discount to our members. Volare can supply the equipment for members to take to their own MRO for fitting, or perform installations on appropriately STC’d Challenger, Hawker, Global, Legacy, and Phenom aircraft at a further discount.
  • For members who already have Satcom Direct equipment installed on their aircraft, get up to a 40% discount worldwide on swift broadband through AVIAÂ membership. Approximately $5 per megabyte (variable based on volume). Joining our fleet is simple – contact us with your aircraft registration to begin the process.
  • AVIAÂ members have access to a broad spectrum of fellow members with different installations, allowing those considering adding data connectivity to their aircraft access to real world insight on usability, functionality, and speeds.