Economical In-flight Wi-Fi Offered by EMS Aviation

 - September 22, 2010, 8:11 AM

EMS Aviation is offering its Forté AirMail for a wide range of corporate aircraft. The FAA STC-approved, Iridium-based system provides worldwide Wi-Fi e-mail capability in flight using common Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones (BlackBerry and iPhone) and Wi-Fi-enabled personal digital assistants. The company has approval for the Bombardier Challenger 600/601/604, Global Express (not the XRS or 5000) and CRJ850; Dassault Falcon 50, 50EX, 900, 900EX, 2000, 2000EX; and Gulfstream V and GV-SP.  

“The unit system price is just shy of $35,000 and would include an airmail Wi-Fi router, Iridium transceiver and one of three antenna devices,” Iain Ronis, an EMS account manager, told AIN. The choices of antenna include a single element designed to support the system alone, a dual element to support the EMS system and another Iridium-based system, or a diplexer that allows the AirMail Iridium transceiver to use an existing Iridium antenna already installed to support another system.

Ronis said this is an e-mail-only function and users are charged based on the airtime connected to the Iridium network, which averages about $1.25 per minute. Forté AirMail system users can add in-flight phone  with the optional Forté phone system.

“This is a rather unique opportunity. We’ve got STC approval for 13 different aircraft models. This is a tricky area because the FAA hasn’t quite figured out what do to about Wi-Fi yet. We introduced the system at NBAA in 2009 and the FAA immediately put a moratorium on Wi-Fi until [the agency] figured out how to regulate it. Fortunately, we were able to get our system grandfathered as an existing system. A couple of other systems exist but are approved for only a limited number of aircraft and it is currently difficult to get the FAA to approve a new system,” Ronis said.