2019 will be the second consecutive year where a disruptive new satellite-based connectivity service dedicated exclusively to business aviation operators will make its industry debut at the annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference and exhibition. Last year, it was Intelsat and Satcom Direct introducing FlexJet; this year it is a unique partnership between Collins Aerospace and SES for LuxStream.
Competition among service providers and onboard equipment makers to supply high-speed connectivity is fierce right now too, as business aviation operators have a plethora of options available now and others becoming available within the year. From a service perspective, Gogo, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Satcom Direct, SmartSky, Viasat, Panasonic Avionics are among the companies that are now able to confidently say their service offerings for business aviation can support modern internet pilot and passenger applications such as video conferencing, streaming Netflix or flight operations access to real-time weather updates.
As you will see from this month’s cover story, one of the most interesting aspects of LuxStream was revealed in my interview with SES Networks CEO JP Hemingway as described the difference in the wholesale capacity business model they use for the rest of commercial aviation versus the customizable per-operator subscription model they will use with Collins Aerospace for business jets. That provides operators with fleets as large as VistaJet or as little as one to two aircraft with flexibility to improve how they pay to operate the service onboard their aircraft. It will be interesting to see how the in-flight connectivity market for business aviation specifically continues to grow and expand with new players, business models and service offerings seemingly arising on an annual basis.
Elsewhere in this month’s issue, Frank Wolfe gives a status update on the U.S. business aviation community’s progress with ADS-B equipage while James Careless analyzes what vendors are doing to address cyber security risks associated with connected aircraft equipment. Assistant editor Brian Garrett-Glaser makes his Avionics debut with an article exploring how the potential of commercial drone operations is currently still in its infancy due in part to the limitations of currently available detect-and-avoid technologies.
We’re taking the month of November off and will be back with another exciting edition of Avionics in December, before returning to our bi-monthly format in 2020.