When we think of jets, most of us picture the same typical airframe. Wings, empennage, cockpit, engines, and a fuselage are all basic building blocks. But what if you took away, say, the fuselage? What kind of jet would it be? It’s hard for most people to imagine a plane that looks so different or one that’s even airworthy. But the fact is, flying wings have been around for a long time, and they might get their due in private aviation sooner than you think!
The constant search for innovation
Aircraft manufacturers are pushing the envelope for upcoming jet designs. Passengers need to arrive at their destination faster, so they’re creating models that are efficient. Manufacturers also are hopping on the sustainability trend, which means electric and hybrid drives are in the near future. To achieve an efficient, sustainable aircraft, innovators are beginning to delve into new territory.
Flying wings have been around since the 1900’s but remain widely unused in the private aviation industry — until now. Horten is test flying their HX-2, which has no fuselage and is all flying wing.
The HX-2 also has more room for propulsion technologies. The flying wing design is perfect for adding the anticipated hybrid drive that will make flying more eco-friendly. In short, flying wings like the HX-2 are key to making private aviation more efficient and sustainable. The HX-2 is still in its testing phase, so pilots must wait before they can get their hands on it. The anticipation is a good sign that they have a tangible place in the future of private aviation.
Why don’t airlines use flying wings?
Flying wing models began in the early 20th century but weren’t intended for commercial use. Different militaries had their own take on the flying wing, most being experiments that didn’t make the cut. In 1933, the USSR had the Stal-5 but abandoned the model due to poor stability. Likewise, the American N-1M was too heavy and underpowered to make it off the ground.
However, some commercial airlines attempted to get flying wings into the mainstream. In 2007, Boeing introduced the X-48 to airline passengers. People didn’t enjoy the plane’s internal design, so it became yet another military aircraft. But flying wings could make a comeback in the private aviation industry with Horten’s HX-2. It seats only two people right now, but the company plans to make it a multi-seated jet.
Flying wings aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing jet, but they’re highly efficient and sustainable. The aviation industry has been looking for ways to make jets eco-friendly, so we may see a rise in flying wings.
These days, you can get into high-end automobiles that have dashboards comprised entirely of touch screens. Everything from the speedometer to the media player is digital. Get into the cockpit of a private jet and you’ll find much less of these digital devises. This isn’t to say avionics aren’t advanced, but the industry hasn’t quite adopted touch screens yet.
What’s the hold up? If the phones in our pockets and the computers we work on every day have touch screens, why not avionics? Proponents of more advanced avionics argue their benefits; however, some feel the industry isn’t quite ready for touch-screen-powered cockpits.
Those in favor of touch screens …
The call for touch-screen avionics seems like a no-brainer. For starters, the capabilities of any cockpit are instantly enhanced. Imagine pinch-to-zoom terrain maps or swipe screens for radar. The skills we’re all familiar with on smartphones and tablets instantly translate, making touch-screen cockpits intuitive and easy to learn — all while jamming more critical technology into a smaller space.
It’s about more than how pilots will interact with touch screens; it’s also about how they will not interact. Touch screens open the door for more automation and intelligent piloting technology, enabling pilots to do more by doing less.
There’s a huge customization factor in touch-screen technology. Static cockpits are fixed. It’s impossible to array controls in a way that best fit a pilot. With touch screens, the ability to arrange and optimize consoles becomes a reality. It’s a simple way to make the cockpit more familiar and easier to maneuver.
… versus those against them.
Those against touch-screen avionics have just as many arguments, with just as much validity. Chief among concerns is functionality. It’s hard to replace the utility of traditional knobs and switches — items that are easy to grip and toggle during turbulence, whereas tapping a touch screen is much harder. In the same vein, it’s easy to accidently tap and toggle a touch-screen versus a manual switch that requires force and registers action. Every knob and switch is unique, making it hard to replicate tactile feel in a touch screen.
The cost of touch-screen avionics also makes them a touchy subject. Especially in smaller, more affordable aircraft, touch-screen avionics would inflate the price of a jet. Not only will this price out some would-be buyers and hobbyists, it would reset the market as aircraft makers race to create the most sophisticated cabin experience.
When will we see touch-screen avionics?
Touch-screen avionics aren’t a new concept. Companies like Garmin sell broad aftermarket upgrades for private aircraft of all types, and jet owners who prefer a digital cockpit already indulge in the upgraded experience. As for mainstream, stock touch-screen avionics? They’re not yet the standard for all jets, but can be acquired by the discerning pilot. We’re still a few years out from touch-screen avionics as the stock option, instead of the opt-in.
The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, call us anytime at +1 (305) 754-3313.
In an era largely recognized as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, robotics is playing a pivotal role in making work easier. In nearly every industry, robots are performing repetitive tasks or complementing human workers in doing these jobs quicker, better, and at a lower cost.
In the aviation industry, engineers are designing and deploying robots of all types to make critical maintenance easier. Let’s take a look at a few of the tried and true robots in the field today and how they’re helping maintenance crews so jet owners can take to the skies with peace of mind.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) drones were the first robots to take the field in the aviation maintenance industry. In 2015, unmanned aircraft developer Blue Bear Systems Research deployed a drone to thoroughly inspect the exterior of an airliner for inclement weather damage. Since then, several other MRO drone manufacturers have entered the market driving drone capabilities forward.
MRO drones work by flying predetermined paths around jets, using a high definition camera to show inspectors a crisp visual of the aircraft’s surface. Using drones has the potential to reduce inspection times from as long as six hours down to about two. This not only enables faster repairs but also repeatability in the inspection process.
The future of MRO drones is also exciting. Developers like Blue Bear and Output42 are aiming to create drone software that further maximizes inspection capabilities based on individual jet types. This includes prerecorded inspection flight paths and the ability to automatically detect damage, such as that from hail or bird strikes.
Engine maintenance robots
A jet engine is a complicated mechanical engineering marvel and repairing one is no small task. Aside from being inherently complicated, jet engines are also totally enclosed and must be removed from jets for repairs and maintenance. Famed automaker and engine innovator Rolls Royce is looking to change this through the power of robotics.
In conjunction with the University of Nottingham and Harvard University, Rolls Royce has developed a series of swarm robots to tackle jet engine maintenance. Measuring just 10 millimeters in diameter, these robots are injected into a jet engine to provide visual feedback on the contents of the case and its many components.
Phase two of this initiative will involve a maintenance team installing a bore-blending robot within the engine and deploying it remotely for engine maintenance. Using remote controls, an inspection team will be able to execute minor maintenance without ever opening the engine compartment.
Other robotic assistants
As technologies continue to evolve in the robotics field, engineers are exploring more and more iterations of helper robots. Examples like Invert Robotics’ climber robot show the abilities of robots to adapt to jet maintenance crew needs, providing everything from terrain maneuvering assistance to high-definition video transmission.
Regardless of what form jet maintenance robots take or what service they’re able to provide, they’re reducing the time, cost, and margin of error for jet maintenance. Results are better inspection standards, more efficient maintenance, and safer jets extending to private and business aviation.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding across industries as the prevalence of big data is allowing analysts to leverage information and improve just about every aspect of the way things work. Aviation is no exception. With so many variables involved in air travel, the IoT is paving the way for our understanding of optimization across the board.
Flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs are becoming more robust, relying heavily on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies to manage their broad scope. This has, in turn, led aviation insiders to adopt intelligent wireless access points (WAPs) and in-flight connectivity (IFC) in their jets. Together, this digitization of essential systems has opened the door for IoT in aviation.
3 examples of the BizAv IoT at work
Reliance on legacy systems and the capital-intensive nature of the industry as a whole have made IoT adoption slower in the BizAv field than in many others. However, many innovations are beginning to take hold. Here are just a few:
Crew assistance —Fly-by-wire technologies have been in place since the 1970s and have dramatically improved flight safety and efficiency. However, pilot presence, which means making sure cockpit personnel have all the insights they need before, during, and after takeoff, is still invaluable.
Big data maintenance — Another GE venture, Taleris™, is a company leveraging IoT technologies to vastly improve maintenance for jets of all types. One of a growing number of companies like it, Taleris utilizes a series of sensors and beacons throughout an aircraft’s many vital systems to collect and analyze data to minimize unscheduled maintenance and delays.
Flight path optimization — Predetermined air corridors and flight paths offer certainty once a jet is in the air. But BizAv IoT tech is making it possible to safely adapt and adjust routes midflight. More than just air-to-ground communications, the IoT is enabling air-to-air data communication so pilots can anticipate and avoid intersection points, keeping jets safely in the air on the shortest possible trajectories to their locations.
And these are just the IoT innovations on the jets themselves! Smart airports and customer-facing technologies are moving the industry ever closer to interconnectivity where big data may someday optimize the entire private flying experience.
See a problem, solve a problem
As the industry broaches the cusp of BizAv IoT innovation, insiders may quickly realize the true power of big data insights. When they do, the floodgates could open for even broader adoption and innovation. Just as it’s doing for manufacturing, offices, and utilities, the IoT is bringing efficiency, accountability, and automation to aviation, improving existing fly-by-wire technologies and enabling insights throughout.
The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or at +1 (305) 754-3313.
Both government spokespeople and international aviation business organizations have committed themselves to the search for cleaner, more sustainable jet fuel options. Because of concerns about the harmful effects of emissions, these aviation leaders are proactively taking steps to reduce the business jet industry’s carbon footprint and find alternative sources for jet fuel. But what strides are they making, and how soon could they affect you?
The first industry to reach an international agreement
The business aviation industry is the first in the world to develop internationally accepted carbon emission reduction standards. In November of 2009, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) released a joint resolution, including three major goals:
Carbon-neutral growth by 2020
2% average growth in fuel efficiency annually until 2020
A 50% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 to 2050
In May of this year, industry leaders renewed their commitments to the project at a media luncheon held in conjunction with the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE). At the luncheon, stakeholders publicly signed a Declaration of Commitment to developing and adopting Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuel (SAJF).
The Business Aviation Guide to the Use of SAJF
In addition to the Declaration, the coalition of aviation organizations released a new report: the Business Aviation Guide To the Use of Sustainable Alternative Fuel (SAJF). The purpose of the report is to educate those in the industry about the importance of SAJF as well as encouraging adoption of the already available alternative fuels. The guide emphasizes three aspects of SAJF for business jets: It is safe, approved, and already available for purchase. It also lists many alternative fuel benefits and encourages readers to support innovation.
A look at SAJF
Many different SAJF and other alternative energy sources for aircraft are in development. Some companies, such as Gulfstream, are regularly running their jets on 50/50 biofuel with great results. Unfortunately, due to lack of availability, these companies often have to truck the biofuel across the country, which clearly offsets the carbon emissions the fuel itself saves. These forerunners hope this will improve over time as demand increases.
In addition to SAJF interest from big names in business and private jets, NASA has conducted joint studies with the German Aerospace Center and the National Research Council of Canada, which have tentatively shown that biofuel reduces the formation of contrails. This is excellent news for the reduction of negative environmental impacts since contrails have shown a major link between aircraft and environmental damage.
Research continues on unleaded jet fuel under the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). The FAA announced in June that the program was approximately halfway through the engine-testing portion of the program. Two different fuels, one from Shell and the other from Swift, won bids for testing under the initiative, although a completion date is unclear.
As an alternative to SAJF, some researchers are even looking forward to electric aircraft as the future, though this prospect seems more distant. In the meantime, others in the aviation industry are doing their share as solar panels at FBOs and other energy-saving technologies are becoming standard practice.
While the transition to alternative fuels is a slow one, the international business aviation industry is determined to be a forerunner in the pursuit of cleaner travel. Soon, every private and business aircraft owner might be able to offset carbon emissions with cleaner, greener fuel options.
In the market for your own personal aircraft? Be sure to consult a knowledgeable aviation professional to discover the perfect new or preowned jet for your needs. Contact our private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or by phone at +1 (305) 754-3313.
While supersonic flight is nothing new, the ability to travel faster than the speed of sound has been absent from the aviation industry for 15 years. Recently, however, jet industry insiders have renewed their interest in supersonic travel. But what’s been stopping them?
The greatest hindrances to supersonic flight are regulatory and economic. U.S. regulations prohibit supersonic flight over land because of the boom the planes create when they break the sound barrier. At the same time, the demise of the Concorde — the only successful commercial supersonic jet in history — was due in part to excessive operation costs. Despite these odds, select companies feel they can face these challenges with success in both commercial and business supersonic flight, and investors believe them.
Top contenders for the next generation of supersonic travel
Several companies are working to make supersonic jet travel a viable option. A California-based unit of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, received a $247.5 million NASA contract for Low Boom Flight Demonstration. Under this contract, the defense giant will build and test a supersonic aircraft called the X-plane. They expect the experimental design to bypass the sonic boom and, instead, make a sound only as loud as a car door closing. NASA hopes reducing the noise of supersonic travel will lead to changes in over-land travel bans and open the doors for supersonic routes across the U.S. Per the contract, Lockheed is scheduled to deliver the commissioned demonstration aircraft to NASA in 2021.
Other companies are boasting of tech developments that will surpass the Concorde in speed and cost efficiency. Tech startup Boom Supersonic has received more than 75 pre-orders for its supersonic passenger aircraft, the XB-1. The company claims the XB-1 will fly at up to Mach 2.2, more than twice the speed of sound and faster than any aircraft in history. Boom is also claiming that ticket prices will be comparable to today’s typical business class fares. The scheduled delivery for XB-1 jets is in 2023.
But could private jets beat them to it?
The business jet industry is also seeing new companies bring their designs to the table. One major competitor is Spike Aerospace, which is claiming that elite engineering and design will make its S-512 jet both fast and luxurious for the most discerning passengers. The S-512, like the XB-1 jet, is due on the market in 2023.
Another startup, Aerion Supersonic, is making big promises of its own. Aerion leaders have made it clear they intend to offer the first viable luxury supersonic jet on the market, though they set their release date for 2025.
Focusing on flights over the mainland
Most of the aviation experts behind these projects are looking toward flying the Concorde’s original overseas routes. However, the joint project between Lockheed Martin and NASA is coming at the issue from a different perspective. While the Low Boom Flight Demonstration contract has a longer and slower timeline, the goal is to create an aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds without the disruptive sonic boom. The long-term plan for the X-plane includes flight tests over U.S. cities to monitor the noise levels it creates with the hope of eventually reopening the discussion of flights over land. This would be big news for the business jet world, introducing the possibility of flying from coast to coast in just a couple hours.
While the promise of supersonic flights in five years sounds tantalizing, experts are reticent to trust the timelines. At the same time, the financial and technological landscape looks promising for anyone hoping to travel faster than the speed of sound.
Are you looking for the best way to travel in the meantime? The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at sales@L-Lint.com, or at +1 (305) 754-3313.
Today’s business jet owners as well as their crewmembers and passengers are demanding inflight connectivity rivaling that which they enjoy every day on the ground. Connectivity in the air is no longer considered a perk but, rather, a necessity. However, with increased connectivity comes the same security issues everyone everywhere is facing: Our data, communications, and networks are vulnerable to an increasing variety of threats and privacy issues.
Business aviation and internet security
At a recent Aero Club of Washington, D.C., meeting, Alan Pellegrini, president and CEO of Thales USA, manufacturer of electronic systems for aviation, told attendees that, the more connected aircraft become and the more devices that are added to this intricate web of connectivity, the more vulnerable our aircraft become to safety, security, and privacy threats. According to the Avionincs article, “There have already been hacks of aircraft and aviation-related systems, including in-flight entertainment systems, data communications between pilots and ground-based controllers, and airline operations systems that in one case in Europe caused flight cancellations.”
Disruptions in private aviation systems can and do have tremendous economic and social impacts. That’s why aviation has long been a target of terrorists. In fact, Russian hackers attempted to break into U.S. civilian aviation systems in 2017 as part of a larger attack on the electrical grid. While the attack did not escalate past early stages, it illustrates industry vulnerability.
One big trend in cybercriminals targeting business travelers is malicious actors gaining access to sensitive business information and using this inside information for illicit stock trading. In one incident, hackers compromised a hotel’s computer network and stole access codes as well as network credentials that allowed them to search for valuable business information.
In addition, cyberattacks on airborne private aircraft are already occurring, usually from attackers on the ground. And offering unsecured Wi-Fi to flight crewmembers and passengers can actually make this type of hacking easier due to hackers’ ability to connect as well.
Another complicating factor involves the implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment. While ADS-B is said to be the next generation of air traffic control technology, it compromises privacy by broadcasting unique International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) addresses and Flight IDs, making them available to those with the proper receivers. This is a reason some owners are resisting compliance with the ADS-B regulations, which will be mandatory as of January 2020.
Companies and individuals involved in business aviation need to take steps now to ensure they are not victims or even unwitting enablers of security attacks. Be aware of who, why, and how hackers might want to break into your systems. Conduct a security audit of your facility and processes to assess how tight your security is. Understand how you control physical and virtual access, what types of monitoring are in place for your users and systems, and where vulnerabilities may exist in your processes and systems. Train your flight crewmembers on security best practices such as avoiding open Wi-Fi networks and protecting access credentials.
Many flight department managers are hiring IT security experts to harden their systems against security breaches and keep up with the continually evolving threat landscape. It’s important to have a detailed action plan so you and your crewmembers are prepared in the case you discover a vulnerability or breach. Yours should address how to limit its impact and recover quickly as well as outline backup equipment and processes in case of critical failures.
Security is a wide-ranging and ever-changing but vitally important aspect of private and business aviation. Keeping your aircraft, flight crew, passengers, computer systems, and data safe and secure requires continuing education, secure systems and practices, and constant vigilance. That’s the price for a strong, economically viable business aviation operation that can withstand today’s ever-present cybersecurity threats.
Contact the experts at L & L International if you need assistance acquiring or selling a private jet.
In the 1960s, a great deal of excitement and anticipation surrounded supersonic transport (SST) aircraft in the business and commercial aviation industries. We’ve revisited the topic several times over the years as new developments seemed on the verge of becoming realities, like Spike Aerospace’s S-512 supersonic jet and Aerion Corp.’s experimental Supersonic Business Jet (SBJ). But roadblocks along the way have delayed their entrance into the market. Noise and emissions regulations, high costs, and safety concerns have cooled initial high hopes — and led to the demise of the Concorde, the only commercial SST jet — but industry experts still believe civil SST aircraft are on the horizon.
In December 2017, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Aerion Corp. announced they were partnering to manufacture a fast business jet that would fly up to Mach 1.4 and create renewed interest in supersonic jet travel. The partnership is interesting because Lockheed Martin is the biggest name in military aircraft, the company’s key focus throughout its history. However, the manufacturers at Lockheed Martin succeeded in building the world’s first business jet, which operated during the 1960s and 1970s. Leaders at Lockheed Martin and Aerion hope their first supersonic business jet, to be named the AS2, will take its first flight in 2023 with certification following in 2025.
Aerion and Lockheed stakeholders teamed up with General Electric Co. to design the new plane’s engine, which will allow the aircraft to fly up to 4,200 nautical miles at a speed 1.4 times the speed of sound. Aerion has already begun taking orders for the AS2 and expects to sell 300 over the next decade, according to The Washington Post article.
One of the biggest challenges for supersonic jet developers has been finding a way to minimize the sonic booms that occur when an aircraft surpasses the speed of sound. Such flights are prohibited over land, and Lockheed has been working with NASA over the past few years to come up with a way to mitigate the booms.
Aside from bone-rattling booms, AS2 makers also face the challenge of securing financing. To fund the supersonic business jet, Aerion plans to sell off as much as $200 million in debt. “That would get us through to the preliminary design phase, which would be about two years out,” said Brian Barents, executive chairman of Aerion, in an article in The National.
Aerion executives are willing to invest so much in developing the first supersonic business jet not only because they realize it will be a historical accomplishment but because the AS2 will also offer many benefits to passengers. It will be able to seat 12, and its faster-than-sound speed will cut three hours off a transatlantic flight from London to New York. That means a business executive could make the trip in just four or five hours, a tremendous benefit for executives whose businesses have strong presences in global markets. The jet could also carry diplomats, military, medical, or other officials to their destinations more quickly than other available transportation options. In addition, advanced aerodynamics will allow the AS2 to have a spacious, comfortable cabin without greatly impacting airframe drag and performance.
Although the AS2 likely won’t be operational for another seven or eight years, its development could be signaling the beginning of a new and exciting age for business aviation. Will AS2 technologies lay the groundwork for future supersonic business jets? Only time will tell. But for business jet travelers, time is money, and the ability to reach their destinations with such speed is something many are willing to pay top-dollar for.
Contact the experts at L & L International if you need assistance acquiring or selling a private jet.
Business aviation is changing. It’s expanding reach both into a new brand of customer — not just the ultra-rich — as well as into more global markets. That’s good for the industry, but active pilots and maintenance crews aren’t able to presently meet the demand. To combat this issue, industry leaders at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) have created a mentorship program to guide individuals who are interested in business and private aviation, and congressional representatives are sponsoring initiatives to encourage more women to enter the field.
Those at the NBAA have initiated phase one of a mentorship program for people desiring to explore opportunities in business aviation. Representatives from the NBAA’s Young Professionals Council created the program along with Domestic Operations and Business Aviation Management Committee members. The program matches industry veteran mentors with those interested in learning about the industry or current aviation professionals who want to further their careers.
Newcomers — NBAA members paired individuals from the first group into 20 teams according to their common interests and goals. The 20 mentees include college students starting their careers as well as mature individuals wanting to deepen their knowledge and experience or take a different path within the industry. One mentee is actually a company CEO who wants to learn more about business aviation.
Mentors — NBAA members chose mentors for these newcomers from a pool of candidates who expressed interest via membership surveys. Those in each matched pair sign a confidentiality agreement, decide how often they will meet, and set a specified end date so both parties understand it’s not a never-ending commitment.
Phase one will go through June of this year, after which the NBAA has scheduled a nine-month program to begin in September 2019. The group hopes to launch its full mentorship program in fall 2020.
A push for more women
NBAA members aren’t the only ones growing their ranks. With room for opportunity, the business aviation field is predominantly male: Only 6% of pilots, 2% of airline mechanics, and 26% of air traffic controllers are female. Those stats prompted lawmakers to sponsor initiatives to bring more women to the industry.
One bill, the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, urges industry leaders to “explore all opportunities, including pilot training, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and mentorship programs, to encourage and support female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation.” The bill calls for the FAA to sponsor a Women in Aviation Advisory Board and to explore ways to expand opportunities for women in the field.
In another initiative, lawmakers approved the creation of the Women in Aerospace Act. It allows several science agencies to open up grant opportunities to women. The bill also calls for NASA to prioritize recruiting and promoting qualified women and minorities who are underrepresented in fields such as aviation and aeronautics.
The actions NBAA members and lawmakers are taking acknowledge the need to advance diversity in private and business aviation. These methods are meant to develop and sustain the interests of individuals aspiring to aviation careers, which could help the industry keep up with business aviation’s expanding role. These programs help promote collaboration and idea exchanges both within the individual programs and the wider business aviation community.
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Although business aviation allows companies to cut down on time spent traveling by cutting out lines associated with commercial airline travel and flying direct to remote locations, passengers are still going spend time onboard. Making that time more productive can further increase the cost-saving benefits of business aviation.
With so many of today’s business activities taking place online, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury. Even a few hours of offline travel time can be very disruptive, which is why aircraft connectivity has become a requirement in today’s business jets. What should you know about business aviation, internet connectivity, and some available options?
Being unavailable en route is no longer a valid excuse. Most private jets are equipped to provide various levels of in-flight connectivity (IFC), allowing everything from simple email exchanges to high-bandwidth computational tasks. Connectivity relies on ground stations, a network of satellites, and a service provider that allows a properly equipped jet to use the networks. According to a Valour Consultancy analysis of the market for in-flight connectivity on VIP and business aircraft, there were 19,131 IFC systems on VIP and business aircraft at the end of 2016, and that number is expected to nearly double by 2026.
Providers are competing to provide faster data speeds, greater reliability, smaller hardware requirements, more global coverage, and increased ranges appropriate for a wide variety of aircraft. Today’s private jet customers expect a certain level of luxury and service and, increasingly, reliable connectivity is a requirement rather than a perk.
Whether for business or pleasure, travelers want the same type of connectivity in the air that they have while on the ground. In addition to voice and text, they want video streaming and gaming capabilities as well as data access, conferencing, and access to other internet-related tasks. In the future, your choice of jet may ride on its connectivity solution.
The downside of a connected aircraft
As with most things, with connectivity comes a downside. Advancements can come with increased complexity. Solution providers will need to offer increased levels of training and support to operators. Greater connectivity also increases opportunities for cyberattacks. Providers will need to have adequate security installed on their systems to protect passengers’ online activities but also to prevent hackers from taking control of or interfering with aircraft control systems.
The other concern is data costs. As more travelers are demanding fast speeds and data streaming, data usage can quickly spiral out of control. Solutions like Honeywell’s GoDirectAccess allocate usage, helping to keep costs in check. And some operators are even turning to pay-per-usage cards or offering higher speeds and streaming services for a premium.
As in-flight connectivity becomes standard in private and business aviation, competition will drive innovation. In the near future, these innovations could be what makes or breaks a deal to purchase or charter a particular aircraft.