Pilot's Guide to Avionics 2015-16 Edition - 61
possible and practical today. Today, lighter airplanes can have virtually
everything the big iron can."
" The expectation by pilots and passengers alike is that they are
connected wherever they go," stated Jim Zanino, vice president of sales
and customer support for BendixKing. " Until now, the aircraft is still one
place where it is very expensive to do that. But we have been actively
developing products to serve that market segment - smaller jets and
turboprops on down - and we are now shipping a cost-effective solution
for these aircraft. Focus groups of these types of aircraft owners said
that $ 100,000 was just too much for them to invest in connectivity for
their aircraft. They needed something much more affordable."
John Wade, executive vice president and general manager for Gogo
Business Aviation, said, " The adoption of broadband across the upper
markets, both in airliners and business aviation, has been phenomenal.
There are thousands of airplanes that now have broadband on board -
unfortunately, it is all in the super-mids and above. But we've recently
seen that inexorable migration of capabilities downward. You now have
guys with Beech King Airs flying around with air-to-ground connectivity.
I think, to date, the smallest aircraft we've installed is a Cessna 421, but
we see that even extending further down in the market in the very near
As you would expect, much of today's capabilities for smaller cabin
aircraft is thanks to the trickle-down of technologies.
" We've been investing in cabin connectivity for years, and what
we've done is leverage some of the higher-end Honeywell broadband
technologies," Zanino said. " We've been able to bring some of those capabilities
Gogo 's ATG 200
into our new products and bring the costs down to meet this segment's needs and
But before shops start promising aircraft owners high-speed Internet on their C-90, Wade
cautioned that while both air-to-ground and satellite-based broadband connectivity is now
available aboard many smaller aircraft, it's not on par with what you get sitting in your home or
" We've discovered that user experience is the key driver," Wade said. " If you look at people using the Internet
anywhere, the No. 1 thing that frustrates them is the 'are we there yet effect? ' If anything takes too long to
download, they just move on to something else."
According to experts, systems in this price range will typically deliver speeds of what you experience with an
upper-end 3G network connection. For most things like email or texting, it gives users a very satisfying mobile
experience. But for surfing the Internet, not so much.
Aside from speed, aircraft owners need to look at what their typical missions are before determining which type
of equipment to install in their aircraft.
Wade explained that it all comes down to how aircraft owners use their airplane.
" If they spend a lot of time flying over water, then they need a satellite system," he said. " If they predominantly fly
within the contiguous U.S., then they may do well with ATG."
Of course, there are more types of equipment to consider when creating a good " infotainment system" than offaircraft connectivity. There are a lot of options for on-aircraft communications and entertainment today. How about
in-cabin Wi-Fi? And what about getting power to all these
Continued on following page...
- 61 -