[Avionics Today 04-20-2015] One of the biggest names in business aviation, NetJets, recently completed the largest aircraft cabin connectivity purchase in its 50-year history. Gogo Business Aviation announced an agreement with the international operator that will bring 650 In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) systems to the NetJets Signature Series fleet.
Business jet passengers using Gogo in-flight connectivity. Photo: Gogo.
Chris Long, vice president of global asset management for NetJets told Avionics Magazine the new IFEC systems will replace the legacy systems previously featured in the Signature Series fleet, which was limited to DVD players and plug-in sideline monitors. While Gogo's connectivity platform will be reserved for passenger Wi-Fi and entertainment usage, Long said the package will be useful for NetJets pilots as well.
"The on-demand In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) is solely for the passengers, however the Wi-Fi Internet system is used for FAA-approved flight crew Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) operations," he said. "The new IFEC system is a solid platform for many exciting planned future enhancements."
The deal with NetJets included a number of connectivity milestones for Gogo as well, including business aviation's first fleet selection of Gogo Vision, which streams a full library of television episodes, news, destination weather, moving maps, and flight information from an on-board server directly to passengers' Wi-Fi-enabled Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs). This is also the first introduction of Gogo Text and Talk to the fractional business jet market, which allows passengers to use Gogo's smartphone application to call and text in the air just as they do on the ground.
Additionally, NetJets is the first fractional jet operator to select Gogo's UCS 5000 in-cabin smart router and media server, which will allow for automatic IFE content updates, according to John Wade, executive vice president and general manager of Gogo Business Aviation. The Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary is Gogo's single largest fleet operator, meaning this purchase represents Gogo's biggest IFEC fleet program to date.
"Getting very large amounts of IFE content to the aircraft (without needing it to travel to the airplane over the airborne link) has always been the difficult part of any IFE solution, and it’s hard to get easier than automatic, so we're really excited," Wade told Avionics Magazine. "In the airplane, it is the UCS 5000 system that actually does the updating. So the same router that provides normal router service also enables the automatic IFE content updates, all in one box."
The smart router uses enhanced data compression, a 3G/4G modem, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi service and a single Service Set Identifier (SSID) for cabin network and Content Management System (CMS) control.
NetJets is the first announced operator to purchase this type of IFEC package from Gogo since the IFC provider's CEO Michael Small first announced the company's plans to expand the diversity of its services for business aviation in August. Among these expansion plans are more capabilities for the Gogo Cloud, a wireless content delivery network that allows Gogo Vision customers to automatically wirelessly receive the latest content updates when they arrive at a Gogo Cloud Fixe Based Operation. In 2014, Gogo Cloud was installed at 10 FBOs throughout the United States, and the expansion is ongoing.
Regarding the in-flight connection speeds that NetJets passengers can expect, Wade said the Gogo Biz air-to-ground service provides a "mobile broadband experience."
Duncan Aviation is performing the fleet-wide installations for Gogo, which will include 350 total business jets ranging from the Phenom 300, Cessna Citation Latitude, Challenger 350, Challenger 650, Bombardier Global 5000 and 6000. The first aircraft in the program has achieved completion.