[Avionics Today 08-30-2016] Avionica has partnered with mobile data solution provider GigSky in an effort to become a one-stop shop in aircraft data acquisition and management services for commercial and business aviation operators. Under the new partnership, Avionica now has the ability to sell and manage GigSky mobile data services in conjunction with its core line of airborne avionics data acquisition and ground support equipment.
Avionica's aviONS and 4G module. Photo: Avionica.
The new partnership, announced Aug. 29, allows Avionica to offer the GigSky Enterprise Manager (GEM) application to commercial and corporate flight departments. Through the partnership, operators using Avionica’s mini Quick Access Recorder (QAR), with its seven-band 4G High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) cell module for uploading safety data after flights, can now use GigSky’s global 3G/LTE network when operating internationally.
According to Avionica Vice President of Business Development Sean Reilly, the GigSky partnership helps extend the company beyond supplying hardware designed to provide operators with the ability to acquire aircraft data to meet international regulations for Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA), perform predictive maintenance and investigative analysis, among other capabilities. Now, Avionica has the ability to help operators manage the service cost associated with the process of getting the data off the aircraft.
"Flight departments are required to provide FOQA, whether it’s an airline, or a charter, they have a mantra to do this. We have a mini QAR and a 4G add on module that we sell to operators. What we've seen in the past is that they typically will acquire our products and then go out to acquire an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card. But then, when they start operating that hardware globally, they start incurring huge roaming charges. Now, when it comes to getting data on and off the airline globally, if there's an issue with the network or service, or the actual data acquisition process itself, they can come to us for everything," Reilly told Avionics Magazine.
Palo Alto, California-based GigSky’s global 3G/LTE aviation network provides mobile data in more than 190 countries and territories, including Cuba. The company’s network has the ability to supply mobile data to support Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), Electronic Technical Log (ETL) and Wireless Quick Access Recorder (WQAR) deployment. Aviation operators can pay an annual fee for the service, avoiding cost impact from the amount of uploaded data.
Reilly said another aim with this partnership was to address the issue of service providers throttling back on the amount of data aviation operators can use when they're roaming.
"When you roam, a lot of times these service providers will throttle your data back. When that happens you don’t have a true LTE network, or 4G- or 3G-type network that you were originally paying for. With GigSky piece the way their agreements are set up internationally, we don’t throttle any data so the operator can get that data off the aircraft quickly and efficiently in a much more timely manner," said Reilly.
In 2015, GigSky announced an agreement with Apple to offer cellular data plans to iPad users that use iPads with the new Apple SIM card. Because of that agreement, Avionica also sees the new partnership enhancing its ability to "pool" data between different devices being used by different commercial airline personnel.
"A lot of airlines are going toward iPads that have an embedded 4G card. With this new partnership we have the ability to pool data, so an airline can have a device with a cellular card inside as well as on the aircraft, so we are able to pool the data together and make it a pooled option, rather than a plan where they pay per device. This new data pipe gives us a lot of power to start providing the type of service that aircraft operators need when they are trying to acquire and upload aircraft data in a timely manner," said Reilly.
The Avionica executive also said the company is seeing an increase in business jet operators adopting QAR technology, which eliminates the need for maintenance personnel to extract data directly from a Flight Data Recorder (FDR). Reilly said, along with the new partnership, they are currently offering a promotional package for operators to acquire the mini QAR, 4G module and one year of their AvSync data transfer running on the GigSky network.
"There are a lot of people that just provide hardware and then you go elsewhere for service, but that results in pointing fingers [when there is an issue]. We wanted to take the finger pointing out of it. With the service we have now, we’re setting a new standard," said Reilly.