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Monday, March 5, 2012

Blue Sky Unveils HawkEyeLink, Signs with Bell

By Chris Sheppard, Associate Editor

La Jolla, Calif.-based Blue Sky Network launched its HawkEyeLink for Bluetooth messaging during Heli-Expo. The Iridium voice and messaging service debuted for Android smartphones and tablets. The system, which is “aircraft manufacturer agnostic,” comes with an 8130 form for easy installation and field approvals from Blue Sky’s FAA/PMA facilities.

Once the modem is installed in the aircraft, users can pair Android devices with HawkEyeLink and Bluetooth headsets with the Blue Sky app. Currently, Android is the only platform supporting HawkEyeLink. “We’ve developed the iPhone and iPad app, but Apple requires a lot of regulation, approval and licensing to use Bluetooth on their devices. It’s all done, we just need to get approval,” said Matt Cadwell of Blue Sky Network. Blackberry and Windows Mobile apps are also in development.

The system has a 30-foot radius for Bluetooth connectivity, making it useful for offshore transport operations that use Sikorsky S-92s and other large transport helicopters, as “these are carrying 20-25 people, and [HawkEyeLink] is giving connectivity to all of them, not just the guys up front.”

“We’ve developed this for two different types of people in the aircraft: One, if you have a two-pilot operation, the non-flying pilot can handle things like calling the operations department…but our initial thought on this was the people in the back of the aircraft,” said Cadwell.

With FAA expanding its regulations to allow tablets as part of electronic flight bags (EFBs), the use of Blue Sky’s system is just the addition of a new app on a tablet, Cadwell stated.

BSN also signed with Bell Helicopter to provide its HawkEye PT for Bell’s support and services division. The Iridium tracking and messaging software will track helicopters inbound for Bell’s service center in Piney Flats, Tenn.
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