It wasn’t that long ago when onboard connectivity wasn’t even an option. Now, commercial airlines turned into a luxury and the business aviation industry eventually had to follow suit. The connection wasn’t the best, but it was there. As technological advances continued to improve connectivity options for commercial passengers, the subpar onboard connectivity that private charter companies were offering was no longer acceptable.
Onboard Connective Challenges for the Business Aviation Industry
The challenge for improving onboard connectivity for the business aviation industry has a lot to do with cost and meeting the clients’ expectation. Private charter passengers are expecting the same quality of connectivity that the commercial airlines are offering, especially since they are paying a premium rate. They expect to have better flight experience than a commercial flight. Providing such a service hasn’t always been the easiest accommodation to meet.
The Expense of Onboard Connectivity
The cost to install a Wi-Fi system into an aircraft can range from $100,000 to $160,000 for a basic ground-based system. The expense can be even higher depending on the type of aircraft it is. Oftentimes, a great deal of the interior needs to be removed in order to install the new technology. However, satellite communication is becoming more in demand for business aircrafts.
Satellite Connectivity for Aircrafts
Satellite connectivity gives aircrafts of all sizes the ability to provide online connectivity to their passengers. Before satellite connections, only the larger aircrafts with heavy airframe could accommodate the antennae because the equipment was heavier and as a result, more expensive. Installation for connectivity used to cost anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000. With today’s technology, aircraft connectivity is much smaller and lighter weight allowing the smaller aircrafts like turboprops to have online access. The lighter and less expensive cost to the private aviation companies allows them to also pass these savings down to their passengers.
The cost to access onboard connectivity really depends on the charter company. They can set their own rates. Some may choose to charge passengers by the hour. Others might include it in the total package cost charging passengers like a cable or mobile phone provider.
The Benefits of Onboard Connectivity for Passengers
The ability for private aircrafts to provide onboard connectivity allows professionals to conduct business while in flight staying connected with operations on the ground. Meetings can take place in a private and secure aircraft providing passengers with the privacy commercial airlines cannot offer.
Some of the Challenges of Onboard Connectivity
While the demand for onboard connectivity for private flights are being met, business aviation companies are now running into the bandwidth challenges since passengers are looking to use online connectivity for more than just business purposes.
These days having online connectivity is a lifestyle more than a luxury and is expected to be part of the bare minimum requirements. It has also become increasingly apparent how important online connectivity is for passengers as it has been proven that private jets with this feature sell much faster.
Gary Harpster, Senior Avionics Sales Representative stated that a private aircraft without Wi-Fi connection would not see as much activity as an aircraft that does. He went on to state 75 to 80 percent of buyers prefer a plane with an internet connection.
The Need for Speed!
With internet connectivity being the normal expectations, the demand has now shifted to broadband services. Since video has proven to attract 80 percent more users, the connectivity needs to be faster in order to stream the heavy data that video brings. To conduct a proper meeting means having enough bandwidth to incorporate technology like PowerPoint presentations, access podcasts, video and more. When giving presentations, professionals cannot afford to have their video freezing or spooling minutes on end to receive reception.
Passengers are expecting to get the same type of streaming as if they were on the ground, and private charters must meet this need because if the commercial airlines are able to provide it, then they must also follow suit. In addition to the laptop, passengers are also utilizing their tablets and smartphones, sometimes simultaneously. This increases the demand for more bandwidth making the expense for the charter that much more expensive.
With such a demand comes the cost. This is why it’s best to conduct the heavy data-driven tasks on the ground or even through ATG networks, especially when traveling overseas.
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