MEBAA Convention News

Read all about it! Onboard Internet access for laptops here!

 - November 10, 2008, 9:44 AM

Arinc is promoting its new onboard Internet (Oi) service for laptop computers here at the MEBA show (Stand No. 330). Launched in September for the commercial airliner market, Oi is also expected to appeal to business aircraft operators who want to provide online connections for their passengers.

For example, Oi would allow executive charter operators to manage connection costs for specific flights. In fact, according to James Hardie, Arinc Direct business director, some corporate operators have been switching off in-flight Internet services because they are concerned about overuse in some scenarios.

Buttressing Oi is Arinc’s recent move to add Inmarsat SwiftBroadband to its portfolio of Inmarsat satellite connectivity options. SwiftBroadband has provided the increased bandwidth required to allow full functionality for Oi, including real-time Internet browsing, e-mail and instant messaging. It can also use slower Swift64 connections.

According to Colette Parks, Arinc’s satellite application director, Oi offers a dedicated onboard portal for delivering the latest news and sports information. Larger content updates (for example, the latest sports scores) will be performed on the ground by wireless broadband data delivery using Arinc’s new GateFusion Wi-Fi data system.

Arinc has increased the data transfer capability of Oi to be able to handle the expanded onboard content now being offered and the enhanced Internet connectivity for passengers. According to the company, this will be the first time that passengers can use their own devices to connect to the ground. With additional software, the service can be extended to other devices, such as iPhones.

Arinc Direct Takes Off

Meanwhile, the past year has seen a significant increase in demand for Arinc Direct’s flight planning service. More than 2,000 business aircraft currently use the system, including 170 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa–a threefold increase in that region.

Arinc recently added an aircraft weight-and-balance function to the flight planning options available through the service. Since last year, pilots have been able to access flight-planning data via their BlackBerrys or other portable devices. Like the integrated runway analysis function, the weight-and-balance tool has been developed with Aircraft Performance Group.

The company claims its new Direct Mobile option is the only service of its kind that is interoperable with all business aircraft avionics suites. It combines cockpit, cabin and ground operations via a common Web interface. In addition to SwiftBroadband and Swift64 connections, Arinc Direct can also be accessed via connection options such as Ku-band Skylink and Iridium. Hardie said Arinc is working with other flight-planning providers such as Jeppesen and Universal Weather to offer their services in modular format.

With Arinc Direct Mobile, operators can create and file flight plans, view their planned route with weather radar overlays, update departure times, retrieve weather information in text format and see the status of flight plans in their account. They can also create and then either fax or e-mail a trip kit to themselves or colleagues at another location (for example, an FBO or hotel).

Last month marked the first anniversary of Arinc’s acquisition by private equity giant the Carlyle Group; it was formerly owned by a consortium of airlines.