Panasonic Avionics announced in November 2015 that it is to enter the business aviation market with its inflight connectivity products.
It has joined forces with Astronics AeroSat to bring high-speed inflight connectivity services and global live television programming to the business and VVIP aviation market.
Astronics Aerosat says it will use its tail-mounted Ku-band antenna with Panasonic’s Global Communications Services to offer high-speed internet, four channels of global television services and regional DBS-TV programming.
But why did Panasonic decide to break into the business aviation market right now?
“Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols put this and other questions to David Bruner, Vice President of Global Communications Services for Panasonic Avionics:
Q. What made Panasonic decide to enter the business aviation market?
A. There are really two main reasons why Panasonic has chosen to enter the market now.
We’ve looked at this market for quite some time. From a network design perspective, we’ve had the ability to serve the business aviation community with global coverage for several years now.
What we needed from a technology perspective was a robust tail-mount antenna with performance that meets the requirements of this demanding customer group.
Our agreement with Astronics to use their T-Series tail mount antenna gives us that critical piece of technology we need to deliver a superior service into this market.
The other major factor is the introduction of the High-Throughput Satellite or “HTS” capacity worldwide, layered on top of our already-global coverage, which allows us to offer true broadband guaranteed data rates virtually everywhere these types of aircraft fly.
Q. Why now, and not five-ten years ago?
A. The factors above defined the timing.
We were not going to enter the market and deliver the same mediocre service or “best efforts” of the incumbent.
Our goal was to give guaranteed bandwidth to our customers, and not promise on an “up to” this much bandwidth type of service.
Q. What sector(s) will Panasonic focus on?
A. The customers operating globally, who have experienced the most deficient service will be the most immediately benefited.
However, the massive capacity coming online in North America and in the Europe/Middle East regions will offer broadband service levels unheard of in business aviation.
As far as what types of aircraft we will focus on, we’re looking at the medium and larger aircraft built by Cessna, Dassault, Gulfstream, Embraer, Bombardier, and others
Q. The easiest fit would be the VVIP market – how do you see Panasonic’s offering fitting in?
A. Yes, obviously IDAir, which is our joint venture with Lufthansa Tecknik, will immediately benefit.
They are also able to take advantage of our high-performance fuselage-mounted antenna on their larger aircraft, and receive extremely high data rates.
The VVIP customers fly long trans-oceanic routes needing deep capacity everywhere – and only Panasonic can deliver.
Q. When can we expect to see more news and perhaps the first customers?
A. The first customer installations are in design and should enter service in the second half of this year .
Q. Do you foresee any more antenna deals, perhaps for smaller aircraft?
A. The Astronics tail-mount antenna is key to unlocking business aviation.
While it is true that smaller aircraft (e.g. Gulfstream G280) may require different solutions than their larger counterparts (Gulfstream G650), our long-term goal is to support aircraft of all sizes.
Q. Will Intelsat’s EpicNG spot-beam technology help with this market sector?
A. Absolutely, HTS spot-beam technology is key to the high broadband experience we can offer.