Marketplace: Inflight Connectivity Services

PlaneSense turboprop
PlaneSense is installing Gogo's Avance L3 system on its Pilatus PC-12s.
Credit: PlaneSense

The market for in-flight connectivity, whether through air-to-ground or satellite communications, is active and evolving with new services and suppliers. Business aviation fleet operators and in-flight connectivity providers have made the following recent announcements.

Fractional ownership provider PlaneSense will install Gogo Business Aviation’s Avance L3 air-to-ground connectivity system across its fleet of Pilatus PC-12 turboprops.

The PlaneSense fractional program comprises seven Pilatus PC-24 jets and 39 PC-12 turboprops. As of February, the company said that all of the jets and 32 PC-12s were equipped for Avance L3, an internet connectivity system designed for light jets and turboprops.

PlaneSense, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, also offers the base version of Gogo Vision, which provides a moving map for passengers to track flight progress and news clips.

Atlas Aircraft Center, the maintenance affiliate of the PlaneSense program, has managed the L3 system installations. All new PC-12s added to the PlaneSense fleet will come equipped with the L3 beginning in 2023, the company said.

“Avance L3 is an important addition to the value proposition of the PlaneSense program, especially with its excellent bandwidth performance, and with functionality starting at 3,000 ft.,” says PlaneSense President and CEO George Antoniadis. “Clients in our jet program have greatly enjoyed Gogo’s L3 connectivity since 2018 and we are thrilled to now offer this benefit to our PC-12 clients.”

Air-To-Ground Upgrade

FlyExclusive photo
Credit: flyExclusive

Private charter operator flyExclusive has selected the SmartSky Networks’ 4G LTE air-to-ground connectivity system for its growing fleet, the companies announced March 16.

Kinston, North Carolina-based flyExclusive plans to upgrade its Gogo-equipped aircraft to the SmartSky system, with entry into service of the first equipped jets in the second quarter. The company operates a fleet of more than 80 business jets, including Cessna Citation X, Encore, Excel/XLS and Sovereign models.

“In 2021, we invested heavily in modernizing our fleet to deliver the ultimate private aviation experience,” says flyExclusive President Tommy Sowers. “As we grow, our partnership with SmartSky will ensure unparalleled connectivity inflight for our customers and crews. After a thorough evaluation of alternatives, SmartSky was the right choice.”

New Satcom Terminal

Inmarsat photo
Credit: Inmarsat

Israel-based Orbit Communication Systems is developing a compact, tail-mount satellite communications (satcom) terminal to access Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX (JX) inflight connectivity service for business aviation.

Orbit’s AirTRX30 satcom terminal is progressing toward type approval for Inmarsat’s Ka-band satellite network, which supports JX, the companies said March 22. Consisting of two line-replaceable units—a modem manager and tail-mount antenna—the system is designed for installation on super-midsize to large-cabin business jets.

The AirTRX30 builds on patented Orbit aperture designs that are already used by Inmarsat’s government customers and will be compatible with future Ka-band satellites that are scheduled for launch over the next few years as part of Inmarsat’s technology roadmap.

AirTRx30 systems will be manufactured at Orbit’s U.S. facility in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The company expects to begin shipping DO-160G-qualified terminals if the first quarter of 2023.

“We are very pleased to strengthen our partnership with Inmarsat and provide its Jet ConneX customers with a future-proof solution that can be used throughout the life of their aircraft,” says Tuomo Rutanen, Orbit Communications Systems vice president for sales and business development. “The open architecture and interfaces of our AirTRx30 terminal allow easy integration, ensuring flexibility and adaptability to passenger needs, which we know is more important than ever.”…

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.