Avionics News November 2015 - 49
way of the North and South poles. When the helicopter crashed
on an ice sheet, ending the expedition, emergency crews used
SkyRouter and Blue Sky Network to pinpoint the exact position
of the downed helicopter.
Using that data, and communications with the downed crew, a
rescue mission saved their lives.
While Blue Sky enables pilots and operators to communicate
two-way messages and email between SkyRouter, Blue Sky's
Internet-based control console and installed mobile transceivers,
it's not the sort of worldwide communications that comes to mind
in a world where everywhere-all-the-time access for browsing the
Internet, talking and texting are the sort of access most coveted
During the past decade, business-turbine aircraft operators
enjoyed a variety of options for adding live Internet access to
their aerial office suites. While systems have been sized for light
turbine aircraft, size and costs still restricted their penetration into
lighter general aviation aircraft.
supporting our phones, they use a Bluetooth connection to a
satellite Internet modem in the aircraft.
Surfing, phoning and texting - all while cruising high aloft.
If there's a downside for some - and there likely will be a
couple - that downer likely stems from the loss of one more
place where they could go and disconnect from all the world
outside their cockpit. But, the cockpit connected to send must
also be equipped to receive - not a plus in some minds.
For many pilots, owners and operators, their bosses and
subordinates, families and friends, the ability to stay connected
holds strong appeal. Where there's demand, there are those
hoping to supply the solution and capture a large chunk of that
demand - and these are merely the starting points.
Spanning the world, cockpit by cockpit
Avionics makers are continuing to fill a gap in Part 23 access.
It hasn't been all that long ago when the first airborne Internetaccess systems began to "appear" in
the cabins and aerial offices of Part
Ever-constant change and
25-level business-turbine aircraft - and
TODAY, NEW OPTIONS MEAN
growing light-aircraft access
even less time since such systems
While systems compatible with
began to win over penny-minding
small Part 23 aircraft helped launch this
ENJOY MORE OPTIONS FOR
era, they've been more expensive than
But access to email, office Intranets
the market for home- and office-based
and public search engines remained
BETTER VOICE, TEXT AND
services we use for casual needs - the
in a vision of some far-away future
EMAIL - AND PRICED MORE IN
way most Americans use their Internet
for most Part 23 cockpits - until
access, mobile phones and portable
recently. Last year brought the
LINE WITH THE BUDGETS OF
emergence of smaller, lighter hardware,
Access accounts, usage fees and
proportionally priced for use in a
system costs helped restrict most who
majority of light-business-aviation
embraced the technologies to those
with a business justification.
These systems just began their
But technology marches ever forward. Today, new options
journey down the typical path of development growth and feature
mean general aviation operators enjoy more options for
evolution and price competition that usually precedes widespread
higher-speed Internet, better voice, text and email - and priced
availability and affordable costs. Meanwhile, what's out there
more in line with the budgets of small-business operators and
costs a lot to use compared to your typical wireless phone data.
At least, now.
In the past couple of years, systems started emerging with
costs and access fees more in line with what high-performance
In-flight access options
aircraft owners and pilots can afford.
Below are just some of the options for maintaining a
And the costs should continue to come down - though not
connection between an aircraft and someone on the ground -
as low as your monthly ISP fee - and with a meter running,
regardless of the distance between them.
byte by byte.
It's good news for a strata of business owners and operators
Gogo Business Aviation
who would appreciate the ongoing connectedness of in-flight
With a variety of hardware products for a wide range
communications - beyond, that is, what we enjoy with VHF
of aircraft, this Iridium-based provider offers a variety of
communications packages, broadband, narrow-band, voice and
Between Garmin, Honeywell and others, light aircraft are
Internet, most of them through a network of service providers.
wirelessly joining the wired world of text messaging, exchanging
Formerly known as Aircell, part of the company's full line of
email voice-over-Internet calling between the same cellphones
we can't use normally. Rather than using the cell-tower networks
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