Arinc Tests Broadband SkyLink Service on Citation X

 - May 6, 2008, 5:51 AM

Arinc announced it has successfully tested a “true broadband communications receiver for aircraft” called SkyLink, which the company said provides Internet surfing capability aboard business jets at speeds unparalleled by competing offerings. The Annapolis, Md. company claims its system has the potential of receiving eight to 10 megabytes of data per second–a rate that is about 10 times faster than aviation products currently on the market, such as those that connect to the Web through Inmarsat’s Swift64 data service.

The Arinc system uses Ku-band satellite technology at ultrahigh frequencies, a technique that allows the receiver, built by ViaSat, to achieve “an order of magnitude higher performance” than current-generation services. Tests were conducted on flights from Wichita in a Cessna Citation X fitted with a tail-mounted dish antenna. This phase I evaluation validated the pointing accuracy of the antenna and demonstrated that high data rates are possible, according to a spokesman.

Arinc is targeting business aviation and airlines for a service lineup that would include live TV programming, Web surfing and telephone connections for multiple passengers. For now, SkyLink has been tested in receive mode only. Transmission testing, as part of phase II trials of SkyLink, is scheduled to get under way later this year. The so-called return path to the aircraft has been a major hurdle to other would-be developers of airborne systems that rely on Ku-band satellite technology, but Arinc claims it solved the problem last year with a special antenna design. The company has not yet released pricing details. Assuming testing goes according to plan, the service could be available for commercial use next year.