The SmartSky air-to-ground networks is – finally – live. The company officially launched commercial operations at the NBAA conference in Las Vegas this afternoon, allowing its OEM and MRO to begin installations and complete additional STCs and Value Added Resellers to activate, connect, and serve customers.
Now is the time to introduce our best-in-class connectivity solution to the business aviation community, new from the ground up. COVID-19 has accelerated expectations for inflight connectivity in business aviation, and those who fly have become increasingly frustrated by data that is delivered poorly – slow, unreliable, or not secure.– David Helfgott, CEO, SmartSky Networks
CEO David Helfgott expects that the currently active network can support roughly 50% of the flight hours operated in the continental US today. He expects the number to jump to 80-90% by the end of the year as the company completes the radio head installation process.
More remote tower locations will take a bit longer to add to the network, but Helfgott anticipates effectively full CONUS coverage by the end of Q1 2022; maybe a few towers will trickle into Q2.
The tower deployment timeline matches the revised guidance provided in June as the initial test corridor activated.
SmartSky also notes that its certification portfolio covers approximately 4,000 aircraft currently flying. Choosing the number of built aircraft rather than the range of different aircraft types is, perhaps, an uncommon move. But with the delays in getting its service off the ground efforts by manufacturers and MROs would have slowed.
With the offering now live the company expects the number of types certified to increase as aircraft manufacturers move to add the new connectivity option to their portfolio.
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The company is, for obvious reasons, heavily focused on the domestic US business aviation market today. It sees significant potential opportunities, even without running into direct competitors such as the Gogo AVANCE platform and its planned Gogo-5G deployment slated for next year.
Helfgott says the SmartSky technology can “go all the way down market to turboprop in a cost-effective and also bandwidth-effective manner.”
But that doesn’t mean SmartSky is only focused on the US Biz Jet market.
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More BizAv news from NBAA 2021
- Viasat Select goes direct for BizAv wifi
- SmartSky goes live!
- Jet ConneX hits 1,000 installs for Inmarsat
- Gogo announces Jet Edge as 5G launch customer
- IFC Trash Talking
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