Asia Pacific Poised for Connected Aircraft Growth

Ahead of the Singapore Airshow, I sought to gain a better sense of some of the trends in aircraft technology upgrades Asia Pacific carriers are choosing to invest in. Since that region of the world has on average some of the youngest fleets in the world — and civil aviation regulators in countries such as China, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore enacted ADS-B mandates years before their U.S. and European counterparts — I knew that operators there more than likely were seeking robust and reliable in-flight connectivity.

In fact, I discovered in my research that connectivity equipage among Asia Pacific airlines remains low, especially in comparison to North American airlines. According to Valour Consultancy, only 22 percent of the region’s airlines currently feature IFC onboard, compared to 80 percent in the United States.

That means the region presents a major growth opportunity for suppliers of in-flight connectivity service, antennas, models and other enabling technologies. It will be interesting to see who emerges as a dominant player for Asia Pacific IFC service, where so far Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics are making major strides. I am very excited to see what type of new aircraft technologies emerge from the 2020 Singapore Airshow, so stay tuned for more on that front.

In addition to this issue’s cover story, where I explore in-flight connectivity investments in the Asia Pacific more deeply than I have here, I collaborated with Brian Garrett-Glaser to summarize some of the new technologies that were unveiled during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. CES is always a forum that, in offering a short-term glimpse at new consumer devices and cars, offers a more distant preview to what we can expect will eventually be ready for aviation’s stringent airworthiness requirements. The show also heavily featured automakers stepping into the urban air mobility space, with Hyundai unveiling an air taxi prototype and Toyota announcing a $400 million investment in Joby Aviation the following week.

Frank Wolfe is back with a look at trending avionics upgrades occurring on military aircraft right now, ranging from ADS-B to Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars and more. Finally, James Careless provides analysis of new and emerging cockpit vision systems technologies.

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