The SmartSky airborne inflight connectivity network has received a boost from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after Avidyne Corporation, SmartSky’s avionics manufacturing partner, was awarded the first supplemental type certificate (STC).
The STC provides for the installation and operation of a SmartSky 4G LTE system on a Cessna Citation Excel.
Avidyne CEO Dan Schwinn said: “With this pioneering first STC in hand, we expect to receive Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) from the FAA shortly.
“PMA is the catalyst for SmartSky’s partners to complete their STC commitments on many other popular business aircraft, and that then enables customers to install and use the system.”
SmartSky expects these follow-on STCs to begin to be available this summer.
The company says that timing aligns well with the planned completion of the majority of the network coverage expansion effort currently under way across the continental United States.
SmartSky says its patented beamforming technology delivers multi-gigabyte per hour data throughput at the industry’s lowest latency, both to and from an aircraft, “setting a new airborne performance standard, all at the lowest cost per bit”.
Nate Klenke, Modifications Sales Manager for Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, Nebraska, said: “The recent FAA approval of the network equipment is a clear indication of the fast pace in which the in-flight connectivity market is evolving.
“We are excited to offer the SmartSky solution to our clients as one of their options for in-flight connectivity.”
SmartSky says its 4G LTE-based inflight connectivity network has been live since 2017 and coverage expansion remains on track to support launching service nationwide in 2018.
It adds that the long lead-time steps of onsite viability testing, permitting and backhaul-connection have all been completed at more than 96% of the planned nationwide ground sites.
More than 40% of those sites are already in their final stages of deployment or are already on air.
Upcoming Showcase at SD’s Annual CwC
Satcom Direct (SD) serves as SmartSky’s exclusive customer service and support provider.
SD’s popular “Connecting with Customers (CwC)” seminar will be held on February 19-22, in Austin, Texas. Now in its 14th year, the event will be packed with industry leaders who are there to learn about the latest updates and innovations.
“The now FAA-certified, future-ready performance afforded by SmartSky 4G LTE will be a key part of the conversation,” says Jim Huntoon, SD’s Director of Sales-Strategic Partnerships.
“We are excited to see this new technology come to market in 2018, bringing a new level of speed and reliability to business aviation connectivity.”