As an unprecedented number of first-time business jet buyers rush to take advantage of the benefits of ownership, the last thing they want is to have their new aircraft spend months in the shop having a satellite connectivity system installed. But that’s unavoidable. Or is it?
“The legacy satcom hardware was developed from airline systems and then shoehorned into a business jet,” explains Chris Moore, President, Satcom Direct. “The installation is complex and expensive. Many of the components have to be installed in the aircraft’s baggage holds, which takes up a lot of valuable space. It’s not the best solution.”
Five minus three equals Plane Simple
Before introducing Plane Simple, 25-year-old Satcom Direct had already positioned itself as a truly global connectivity pioneer. Its complete end-to-end portfolio includes everything required to deliver high-speed satellite cabin and cockpit Wi-Fi.
But, while the rest of its network is well in hand, Moore and the company’s engineering team saw the legacy airliner-derived antennas as the weak links in the system. They were just too big, complex, and prohibitively expensive to install.
“We took a holistic view of the antenna system,” Moore says. “What benefits would a totally new approach bring to business travelers? Making the antenna smaller would lower the cost of installation, and adding it to our software, hardware, and infrastructure portfolio would streamline connectivity acquisition and support, making it attractive to more users. That was the thinking behind our Plane Simple antenna system.”
The new system has just two components—the compact antenna and the remote modem/LRU. As Moore explains, that greatly simplifies installation because just a couple of cables connect the antenna to the Satcom Direct modem unit. And that unit can be installed in an unpressurized portion of the aircraft, which saves valuable cabin space.
“Installations can be done in a fraction of the time compared with legacy five-part systems,” Moore says. “It is the only system designed specifically for business aircraft from the ground up. The market is enthusiastic about what Plane Simple brings to so many aircraft.”
With regard to aircraft types, Moore says that if there’s room in the tail for a 12-inch antenna, then Plane Simple is the ideal candidate for installation. The company already has FAA and EASA STC approvals on many popular newer and legacy super-midsize to large-cabin business jets, and the list continues to grow.
It’s not about the antenna; it’s all about the experience
While Moore notes that the compact Plane Simple antenna system is an engineering marvel, he stresses that what’s most important is what it means to so many aircraft owners.
“From a passenger’s perspective, it’s not about the technology; it’s about the connected cabin experience,” he says. “Now, more passengers can do what they want and need to do anywhere in the world. That’s what’s important to us.
“Whether it’s emailing or streaming or a Zoom call, the capabilities they need are available to multiple passengers, pretty much from any location,” Moore continues. “From our enhanced network operations center to routers and the aircraft hardware, we’ve invested heavily in the infrastructure to deliver reliable and secure connectivity services.”
With regard to security, Moore says that along with its private and corporate customers, Satcom Direct provides connectivity for segments of the U.S. military. With that in mind, all customers can communicate confidently, knowing the company’s cybersecurity capabilities are unsurpassed.
“Whether our customers are connecting via a public internet or a private network, Satcom Direct has everything in place to ensure that their communications are consistent and secure no matter where they are in the world,” Moore says. “When they buy a business aviation connectivity solution from us, it’s a complete service. We own and operate everything but the satellites.
“We were the first to standardize data connectivity from an IP perspective,” he adds. “We’ve built our entire network around delivering the best overall cockpit and cabin connectivity solution possible and making it all as valuable and easy to access to the end user as we can.”