Acropolis Aviation’s ACJ320neo: A Landmark Win For Satcom Direct

Airbus ACJ320neo interior
The Acropolis Aviation’s ACJ320neo interior was completed by AMAC Aerospace to the plans of Alberto Pinto’s lead designer, Yves Pickardt.
Credit: Acropolis Aviation

“Connectivity” is a catch-all buzzword that means different things to different people, and it is often used interchangeably in sales jargon with “solutions.” Now communications and data-management specialist Satcom Direct (SD) has reached a pinnacle by providing the hardware, software and flight-department systems for every link to one of the world’s most digital aircraft.

There’s a lot more to it than just ultra-high-speed connectivity for 19 passengers, every one of whom can stream movies or conduct video conference meetings simultaneously, said SD’s international vice president, Michael Skou Christensen. And that in itself was a challenge.

Working closely with Airbus ACJ320neo luxury charter operator Acropolis Aviation and completions center AMAC Aerospace, SD designed, provided and integrated hardware systems to enable that ultra-high level of connectivity for crew and passengers. And for the crew and aircraft operation, SD provided many of its software-based ground and data-management services that automatically process and relay flight information in real-time.

“Acropolis had huge requirements for connectivity, how to operate the airplane from a management point of view and how to connect the airplane to their ground operation,” said Christensen. “They bought into the entire SD ecosystem from the hardware, software and the service side.”

Typically, he noted, aircraft operators choose equipment and services from different providers. The Acropolis ACJ320neo is the largest project for which SD was selected for everything. While SD manufactures some of its own equipment, it offers and products and services from third-party suppliers as well as its own.

The Acropolis ACJ320neo uses Inmarsat’s Ka-band Jet ConneX satellite service with dual SDR Gateway routers paired with SD Wi-Fi hubs to ensure consistent network availability throughout the cabin. On the flightdeck, SD’s FlightDeck Freedom datalink service enables secure communications for the crew and supports automated alerts to the flightdeck, such as geo-notifications, route alerts and security alerts.

On the ground, the Acropolis Aviation flight department uses the SD Pro intelligent data-management platform to centralize flight-planning and synchronize operations with enhanced visibility into aircraft and network performance. This open-architecture software platform enables integration with third-party providers—including weather, fuel and trip-planning systems—and is designed to support future connectivity developments and aircraft insights. An Advanced Connectivity Module provides detailed analysis of network activity and flight-tracking and forecasts potential inflight communications disruptions.

Separately, SD this week announced a strategic alliance with MySky, an artifical-intelligence-powered spend-management platform that is designed to enhance SD Pro with combined real-time operational and financial information in a single source of data.

Meanwhile, the world’s first ACJ319neo entered service last month with Munich-based K5-Aviation after completion by Fokker Techniek in the Netherlands. The 19-passenger aircraft is equipped with Gogo 2Ku high-speed Wi-Fi and has a range of up to 6,500 nm or 15 hr.

Airbus has won 14 orders for ACJ320neo-family aircraft, including two ACJ321neo LRs for the German government announced last week. Just two ACJneos have entered service to date.


John Morris

John was editor of Aviation Week's ShowNews for nearly two decades. He retired in 2020. His background in business journalism before joining Aviation Week includes stints at Reuters, the American Banker daily banking newspaper and as business news editor at the Milwaukee Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer.