Owners of smartphones such as the BlackBerry and iPhone have been frustrated by the high cost of equipment that allows them to send and receive e-mail in-flight. TrueNorth Avionics is now offering an economical, compact, stand-alone product that plugs into any existing airborne telephone system and creates a Wi-Fi hot spot inside the aircraft that is compatible with most smartphones.
According to a spokesman for TrueNorth, the system has its own built-in Iridium receiver that creates a datalink to the Iridium satellite network. “At $10,995 it costs about half of the next least expensive option and because it is essentially plug-and-play it requires minimal labor and installation cost,” he told AIN.
The system works at any altitude and the user is billed an Iridium time charge by Satcom Direct for actual connection services. “It’s about $1.50 per connection minute,” said the TrueNorth spokesman.