[Avionics Today March 27, 2014] Aircraft connectivity has become more than an added selling point for airlines recently, as carriers and operators are now using cockpit improvements and datalink communications to share in-flight data about performance, position altitude and speed, among other things.
But, despite all the latest airline business models, cockpit improvements and satellite bandwidth available, passengers still complain of slow connectivity speeds on the majority of commercial flights and the aviation industry seemingly has only scratched the surface on the potential usage of the connected aircraft. To address these challenges, leaders from both the aviation and satellite industry are gathering at one of the first events of its kind, the Global Connected Aircraft Summit in Long Beach, Calif., in June 2014.
Aircraft connectivity, as it stands today, has moved far beyond the limitations that the industry once saw, which originally led the FAA and other civil aviation authorities to ban the in-flight use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs). However, now passengers on both Air Transport (AT) and General Aviation (GA) aircraft alike have options to text, surf the Internet, use social media platforms and even make calls.
According to David Bruner, vice president of global communications at Panasonic Avionics, the amount of data consumed per user on an average flight has doubled to 100 megabytes per session, and airlines are looking to be guaranteed up to 20 megabytes per aircraft. Whereas, three to four years ago, when service providers such as Gogo and OnAir thought of their platforms as more of an added benefit for airlines, airborne connectivity has become the standard and summit will look to push the industry to develop solutions to staggering demand.
Steve Bradford, the chief scientist for architecture and NextGen development at the FAA's NextGen office, plans to share a regulatory perspective at the summit as he outlines FAA plans for partnering with the industry on connectivity applications for the flight deck. Bradford is slated to discuss both increase situational awareness on the ground and air, and hopes for improving communication between pilots, Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and, ultimately, the FAA.
Some of the industry's biggest stakeholders, including executives, engineers and managers from Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, JetBlue and SES will be in attendance and participating in panels. For more information on the inaugural summit, see GCAsummit.com.