Arinc (Booth No. 929) is preparing to launch its SkyLink in-flight broadband communications service on the North Atlantic flight tracks and has launched a slimmer antenna suitable for aircraft other than the Gulfstreams which have enjoyed exclusive access so far. First user will be a Falcon 2000 to be equipped by Waterford, Michigan-based Pentastar Aviation.
When the service is launched commercially, which Arinc expects to happen by the third quarter of this year, it will make in-flight broadband accessible across an 8,000-mile swath of the globe stretching from Eastern Europe to the Pacific coast of North America. Five of the 52 Gulfstreams equipped so far are based in Europe and there is another in Hong Kong.
Inglisa said he had been aboard an aircraft recently where five people were using the Internet and two more were making voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) calls simultaneously.
SkyLink is available for three different pricing plans. If users buy 480 hours per year the cost works out at $2.75 per minute per airplane. At the other end of the scale, Inglisa said, 120 hours costs the equivalent of $6 per minute. “That compares with $18 to $19 per minute for two 64-kilobit Inmarsat Swift64 channels, and we’re providing up to 3.5 megabites.”
The slimmer antenna, which is currently undergoing DO-160E testing, will enable operators of Challengers, Globals and Falcons as well as the bigger Gulfstreams to receive the service. Arinc is also working with Starling of Israel on a fuselage-mounted antenna that would extend the service’s availability to smaller business aircraft. “We are aiming to have the product at the National Business Aviation Association show,” Inglisa said.