[Avionics Today 10-21-2014] Nine months after its $1.4 billion purchase of airborne communications provider ARINC, Rockwell Collins' Information Management Services (IMS) division is laser-focused on its fastest growing segment: business aviation. Within the business aviation market, Rockwell Collins IMS Senior Vice President (SVP) Jeff Standerski sees the most growth opportunities in evolving aircraft connectivity in both the cabin and the cockpit.
Cabin connectivity is a focus area for ARINC Direct. Photo: Rockwell Collins.
At NBAA 2014, Rockwell Collins is presenting its vision for growing its newly branded ARINC Direct and the capabilities that the combination of a company known for its avionics manufacturing power and an air-to-ground connectivity provider can bring to the business aviation segment. ARINC Direct is a combination of Rockwell Collins' former Ascend Flight Information Solutions and ARINC services for flight planning, international trip support, cabin connectivity and flight operations management.
"When I think about business aviation I break it up into four pillars around connectivity with ARINC Direct, international trip planning capabilities, flight services capabilities and our flight planning activity," Standerski told Avionics Magazine. "Where we are seeing the most lift is in the connectivity area and specifically in cabin connectivity."
In the cabin, ARINC Direct acts as a "re-seller of satellite time to business aviation," Standerski said. The company's current offering is the Inmarsat SwiftBroadBand cabin connectivity solution.
However, within the near future, the company will be rolling out the next generation of satellite-based cabin connectivity with Jet Connex (JX), which was launched by Inmarsat at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE). Inmarsat is projecting broadband speeds of up to 33 Mbps to aircraft, with full global coverage from JX expected by the end of 2014.
Standerski said Rockwell Collins is now working on coupling the abilities of its flagship Pro Line Fusion flight deck and Venue cabin management systems to provide more value-added connectivity applications for its customers.
"Both the flight deck Fusion system and the Venue cabin system are network systems, and now what we're able to do with the ARINC acquisition is we're able to extend our value proposition to a customer which was primarily information enablement equipment on airplanes," said Standerski. "Now we can come in and offer both the equipment as well as the connectivity capability and services and we're collaborating across Rockwell Collins with the Fusion team and the Venue team now on the types of applications that we can collectively put together to drive additional improvements to Venue or additional improvements to Fusion."
But the new ARINC Direct goes well beyond cabin connectivity with its IMS services, providing almost the equivalent of a commercial airline ground-based flight operations team for business aviation operators. ARINC Direct's business aviation segment currently has more than 3,500 individual subscribers, and Rockwell Collins is measuring its progress in the market based on the number of subscribers for its newly combined offerings.
The company had previously acquired Ascend Flight Information Services and Computing Technologies for Aviation (CTA) and has integrated those capabilities into the ARINC Direct brand. The various IMS flight operations support services offered by ARINC Direct include a suite of web-based tools for flight planning with runway analysis, a dedicated flight-following service and pre-arranged fuel planning services.
"The acquisition by Rockwell Collins opened up some great opportunities for us in business aviation and the biggest and most exciting of these so far has been the chance to integrate with the Houston-based Ascend services that were formed out of the purchase by Rockwell Collins of Air Routing International and FOS [Flight Operations System] some years back," Bob Richard, senior director of ARINC Direct told Avionics Magazine. "This effort has been a major focus, bringing two of the best performing teams in business aviation support together under one banner."
At NBAA, ARINC Direct will also unveil some new product offerings, including a new online "tankering" application that helps business aviation operators to decide on the exact amount of fuel they'll need to carry before embarking on flights with multiple destinations.
Going forward, Standerski and Richard want the industry to see Rockwell Collins' ARINC Direct as a "one stop shop for all of business aviation."
"I'm very excited about what we've seen this first nine months, and I'm even more excited about the next 12-18 months and going forward because we see continuous growth as a result of brining these two companies together," said Standerski.