The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) to Avidyne, SmartSky Networks’ radio and antenna manufacturing partners, enabling full-rate production of the SmartSky 4G LTE inflight connectivity system.
Avidyne secured a PMA for the production of the airborne radio, while AeroAntenna received PMA for the manufacture of the aircraft antennas.
Joe Klein, founder and CEO of AeroAntenna, said: “SmartSky has examined every aspect of airborne connectivity, seeking better ways to deliver Wi-Fi performance and capacity to customers.
“As their many demo flights have confirmed, SmartSky 4G LTE represents a quantum leap improvement over the incumbent air-to-ground system.
“Whether it’s through their advanced technical capabilities as evidenced by the company’s 32 granted patents, or utilising our highly-innovative, customised, and active antennas that are now ready for full-rate production, SmartSky is raising expectations for ATG capabilities and consistently delivering.”
The PMAs assure installers, such as Pentastar, Chicago Jet Group, and Clay Lacy, that each of the unique components of the system are manufactured to the same exacting standards.
The FAA approval through its manufacturing inspection district offices further facilitates the ongoing supplemental type certificate (STC) process on many popular aircraft models by enabling SmartSky’s partners to more rapidly develop new STCs using the PMA’d components.
“This approval accelerates the full implementation of the SmartSky 4G LTE-based network,” says Brian Campbell, vice president of global sales for StandardAero.
“The industry demands more options when it comes to inflight connectivity, and I’m confident SmartSky 4G LTE answers that need. It is hands-down the best performing network I’ve ever experienced.
“This certification is an important milestone in allowing customers to experience first-hand transformative inflight communication services in both the cabin and cockpit.”
SmartSky says its 4G LTE-based network has been live since 2017 and coverage expansion remains on track to support a launch of nationwide service in 2018.
More than 55% of the sites needed to provide U.S. coverage are in their final stages of deployment, up from only 40% just a few weeks ago.
Sites specified as “final stage” include those currently being up-fit with production radios, production antennas, and ancillary equipment, as well as those sites already complete and on the air.
The SmartSky 4G LTE air-to-ground network takes advantage of patented spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming technologies and 60 MHz of spectrum for significantly enhanced connectivity.
It says the system delivers data to the aircraft at rates comparable with next-generation satellite solutions and provides unmatched capacity for data transmissions from the aircraft to the ground.
SmartSky says this real-time, low latency, bidirectional data link makes the inflight connectivity system a key enabler for the new and enhanced apps, services, and hardware that will “usher in the digitisation of the aviation industry”.