In-Flight Connectivity – “You Get What You Pay For”

Previously, we established that if aircraft owners are to renovate their current airplane to modern standards, parts obsolescence is key to their investment.  The most popular upgrade for business jets today- In-Flight Connectivity. Executives now expect to have the same (or as close to the same) access in the air as they have on the ground. Many Flight Departments consider their aircraft “Grounded” if the internet is inoperative. However, the market for aircraft connectivity is overloaded with potential options. There are a few core questions that owners should be asking themselves to help navigate this process.

The first big question: Is the mission domestic or international? The reason for this question is critical. Suppose your aircraft will fly internationally, and connectivity will be required outside the United States. In that case, the “Air to Ground” systems, like GoGo and SmartSky, will not work. Awareness and communication with your installation center will ensure that their aircraft is equipped with cost-effective options that serve the mission.

Next: What kind of budget have you set? Initially, the cost of installation would be the primary consideration in selecting the right system. The equipment price is often only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. To accurately assess the full extent of the expenses, it is best to budget the cost across the entire ownership period of the aircraft; 5 years is standard. Analyzing these costs sometimes results in selecting a system that might not work outside of the U.S. due to the percentage of international flying versus the cost of operation within the United States. Sometimes operators will choose two systems and idle the International system (SATCOM) when flying domestically. The practical solution is to choose a system that suits your needs for all missions, which is not always the most cost effective.

When considering the extent of your purchase, it is also crucial to consider the adage: “You get what you pay for.” It has a particular resonance when it comes to airborne connectivity. If you decide to spend a smaller amount of money compared to other connectivity solutions, without fail, you will receive a performance that is reflective of the costs. Often, when something seems too good to be true, unfortunately, it is. This bears relevance to the price and the installation facility you select.

Ideally, an installation facility should thoroughly analyze your plan and ask the right questions to deliver what you want. Often, they are authorized to install many different systems and should recommend options that suit your mission, budget, and aircraft. It is essential, however, to determine that the facility you are considering has your best interest in mind. To resolve this, an owner must pay attention to the initial questions being asked to them. The installation facility should be posing these questions:

Where is the aircraft flying?

• What is your budget?

• What is your plan usage?

• What is your expectation for speed?

• What kind of aircraft are you flying?

If a facility is not asking you all of these questions, something else is likely guiding their decision-making. Notice that these questions are not aligned with any specific equipment manufacturers. Once answered, the proper equipment solutions will be evident.  

Airborne connectivity is a highly desired aspect of today’s inflight experience. We are a connected society, and we expect to continue that experience when we are in the air. Finding a trustworthy installation facility that can best guide your connectivity solution is at the core of it. We’ve got you covered if you need guidance on the best solution to stay connected, talk to our experts today!

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