EBACE: SITAONAIR sees big interest in connectivity upgrades

Stefan Egli, SITAONAIR’s VP for EMEA.

SITAONAIR says it is fielding more and more enquiries from existing business aviation customers who wish to upgrade their inflight connectivity to a faster solution.

Stefan Egli, SITAONAIR’s VP for EMEA, said it has a lot of high-end clients with twin-aisle and other long-range aircraft, like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 787-800, that want to move up from Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband (SBB) service.

“SwiftBroadband has served them well, but the lure of the faster speeds offered by Inmarsat Jet ConneX is compelling,” he said. While SwiftBroadband typically tops out at 200-432kbps, Jet ConneX can manage up to 15Mbps under the fastest contract currently available.

That means that internet access can be 35-75 times faster than SBB with Jet ConneX.

Strict non-disclosure agreements prevent SITAONAIR from saying who these clients are, but it is no secret that a lot are in the Middle East, including heads of state, high-net-worth individuals and government ministries.

Egli said that while the antenna and modem need changing for the new Ka-band service a lot of the existing LRUs, such as servers and GSM pico-cells (for phone access), can still be used with Jet ConneX.

“We can handle the STCs needed for the upgrades and offer a one-stop shop, or we can work with a third party,” Egli said. “And more STCs for the larger aircraft are becoming available due to GX Aviation’s take-up by the air transport industry.”

For example, SITAONAIR has the GX Aviation contract for Singapore Airlines, which involves STCs for the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380.

The company will soon be able to deploy its 3.5G mobile network services over Jet ConneX, which will be available to airlines through SITAONAIR’s popular Mobile ONAIR application by the end of 2017.

Launched last month, Francois-Xavier Mateo, SITAONAIR’s Head of Cabin, said of the 3.5G service: “SITAONAIR is the very first in the industry to be introducing future-proof inflight cellular technologies over GX Aviation.

“This announcement is a significant and exciting development for inflight mobile services.”

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