Wi-Fi is not just for higher-end bizcraft anymore

 - May 3, 2010, 9:06 AM

Thrane & Thrane (Booth No.190) has unveiled what it claims to be the smallest, lightest equipment available for obtaining Inmarsat broadband services on aircraft. The Aviator 200 system can create a wireless hotspot in the aircraft cabin allowing a wide range of devices to be used.

The unveiling of the Aviator 200 coincides with the introduction of Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband 200 service. While Aviator 200 uses the same avionics as the Aero-SB Lite, which was introduced in mid-2009, it requires only a small, compact blade antenna.

“In the general aviation market this product will be of interest from light jets to turboprop aircraft, particularly with users of Wi-Fi-enabled PDA devices, including Blackberry, iPhone and iPad,” said the Danish company’s founder Lars Thrane. The firm lists the Cessna CJ family, Learjet 40XR, PiperJet, King Air and Cessna Caravan as aircraft that could now benefit from broadband satcoms. Thrane also said it would be useful for smaller UAVs used for surveillance missions.

The Aviator 200 provides data speeds up to 200 kbps and a single AMBE 2 channel for voice calls, “providing smaller aircraft with a complete airborne communications solution where this was not achievable before,” said the company.

Thrane & Thrane also is rebranding its existing Swiftbroadband product family to adopt the new Aviator name. Accordingly, the Aero SB Lite system (with intermediate gain antenna) becomes the Aviator 300, while the Aero SB Lite with high-gain antenna is now the Aviator 350. The Aero SB+ unit is now called the Aviator 700.