SkyPad sets new standard for WiFi cabin control and IFE

 - May 17, 2011, 1:20 AM

Innotech Aviation (Stand 1827) is introducing the SkyPad wireless in-flight entertainment system, for which it recently awarded California-based Esoteric a contract to supply 35 ship sets for Bombardier and Cessna business jets. According to the completions and interiors specialist, SkyPad is the industry’s first wireless in-flight entertainment and cabin control system integrated with the iPad and Innotech’s I-Ku system through Ku-band Internet.

“We have installed SkyPad using the iPad tablet as a system controller, seamlessly integrated with our Innotech I-Ku [pronounced I.Q.] broadband system,” said Innotech president Kirk Rowe. “The SkyPad can be installed as a stand-alone media system on any aircraft or integrated with any current high-speed satellite system and wireless router.” The entire system, he added, is ready for Cloud-based content delivery via Ku-band and eventually Ka-band Internet.

Esoteric founder Alexander Dean was more aesthetically descriptive. “We wanted to create a whole new experience in the air, one based on the same level of elegance, simplicity and convenience that our customers are used to on the ground,” he explained.

Innotech is back EBACE with every intention of expanding its place in the European market, of which it already holds a fair share. The Canadian company provides a wide range of MRO and completion and refurbishment services for a range of manufacturer makes and models at its Montreal facilities, but with particular attention to Bombardier’s Challenger and Global business jet families, which are assembled at the OEM’s nearby plant. In fact, Innotech has done cabin completions on more than 150 Challengers.

According to Rowe, Innotech has seen its international business increase some 70 percent in recent years, “from Europe, the Middle East and Russia; in particular for the Global Express family.”

The expansion provided sufficient motivation for Innotech to open a European office this past December in London, with Peter Rutherford responsible there for sales and service for all of Europe, Russia and Africa.

Tony Rawlinson, Innotech director of sales and marketing, noted that there are some 400 of Bombardier’s Global family in service worldwide, of which 75 are in service in Europe. He added that with the first Global Express deliveries now a decade in the past, those ultra-long-range twinjets are coming due for a 10-year inspection and 10 aircraft based in Europe are scheduled this year for service at Innotech. “There are only a few service centers capable of performing that ten-year inspection,” said Rawlinson, “and at this point, demand is greater than supply.

“There are a lot of good reasons for Global owners to come here,” he said, referring to the Montreal center. In addition to a favorable currency exchange rate for European clients, Innotech is located in what he calls “the Global cluster.” Within a stone’s throw are Bombardier’s manufacturing facilities, FlightSafety and CAE training centers, a Rolls-Royce turbofan maintenance and overhaul center, and Messier Dowty, which makes the landing gear assembly for the Global family of aircraft.

Rawlinson said Innotech Aviation’s business was up sufficiently in 2010 to encourage construction of a $5 million, 26,000-sq-ft hangar capable of holding two aircraft the size of Bombardier’s new Global 7000.

Rowe said in the past year Innotech has increased its green cabin completion work and as the market continues to recover, that will grow from four aircraft a year to five.

Also at home, Innotech yesterday started a major renovation of its entire reception and customer areas, along with space for owners and operators with airplanes in for maintenance and modification work.

Rowe said growth has been steady year-over-year and Innotech has budgeted accordingly. “We’re up about 12 percent. That’s what we expect this year and we’re on budget to achieve that target.” If they do, he concluded, “We’ll be pretty happy.”