Aircell sets September date for first business broadband deliveries
Aircell plans a September start for deliveries of aircraft equipment to support its terrestrially based passenger broadband service for business aviation.
Colorado-based Aircell has been offering the successful Gogo version of the service to US airlines since last year. The Aircell High Speed Internet variant for corporate aviation is based on a more compact set of onboard equipment.
As in airliners operated by American Airlines, Delta and Virgin America, the system will allow business jet passengers and crew to use their own WiFi-enabled devices to surf the Web, send and receive email with attachments, do instant messaging and access private networks.
Aircell says that it already has a backlog of orders for the equipment, which is designated ATG 4000 and takes the form of a modular add-on to the company’s established Axxess air-to-ground communications system. Advance provisioning kits - including the antenna, connectors, wiring and mounting tray - are available now. The kits are intended to go into the aircraft during scheduled downtime in order to speed installations once ATG 4000 hardware becomes available in September.
Pre-production prototypes of the whole package have been operating live in Aircell's development facility for several months. Qualification testing and the FAA supplemental type certification and PMA (parts manufacturing authority) processes are under way, and Aircell plans to launch airborne alpha testing in the coming weeks.
“ATG 4000 will be a very mature product when it comes to market,” says Aircell general manager John Wade. “It will benefit from nearly two years of network experience and tens of thousands of hours in revenue service with airlines.”
Meantime, Gogo advances from strength to strength, proving the market for passenger broadband on the way. American Airlines has just announced that it will equip 300 domestic aircraft for the service following a successful trial in 15 Boeing 767s. Air Canada, Delta acquisition Northwest and United Airlines will implement it soon, and Aircell says that further customers will be announced soon.
* Aircell plans in July to launch an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband product capable of delivering 432kbit/sec per channel worldwide. It is based on hardware provided by leading Inmarsat equipment provider Thrane & Thrane of Denmark.