Arinc (Booth No. 2273) is promoting a new onboard Internet service for laptop computer users called Oi that the company launched last month for the commercial air transport market and is now targeting to business aircraft operators.
The Oi service will let executive charter operators manage connection costs for specific flights, Arinc said. In fact, according to James Hardie, Arinc Direct business director, some corporate operators have been switching off in-flight Internet services because they are concerned about over-use in some scenarios.
Underpinning Oi is Arinc’s recent move to add the SwiftBroadband satellite data service to its portfolio of Inmarsat connectivity options. SwiftBroadband has provided the increased bandwidth required to allow full functionality for Oi, including real-time Internet browsing, e-mail and instant messaging. It can also use slower Inmarsat Swift64 connections.
According to Colette Parks, Arinc’s satellite application director, Oi offers a dedicated onboard portal for delivering the latest news and sports information in an efficient and timely way. Larger content updates (for example, the latest sports scores) will be performed on the ground by wireless broadband data delivery using Arinc’s new GateFusion Wi-Fi data system.
Arinc has increased the data transfer capability of Oi to be able to handle the expanded onboard content now being offered as well as enhanced Internet connectivity for passengers. According to the company, this will be the first time that passengers can use their own devices to connect to the ground, and with additional software the service can be extended to other devices, such as BlackBerrys and Apple iPhones.
Meanwhile, the past year has seen a significant increase in demand for the Arinc Direct flight-planning service, the company claims. There are now more than 2,000 business aircraft using the system, including 170 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
This week Arinc is adding an aircraft weight-and-balance function to the flight-planning options available through the service. Since last year, pilots have been able to access flight-planning data via their BlackBerrys or other portable devices. Like the integrated runway analysis function, the weight-and-balance tool has been developed with Aircraft Performance Group.
The new Arinc Direct Mobile option is claimed to be the only service of its kind that is interoperable with all business aircraft avionics suites. It combines cockpit, cabin and ground operations via a common Web interface. In addition to SwiftBroadband and Swift64 connections, Arinc Direct can be accessed via connection options such as Ku-band Skylink and the Iridium low-speed data service. Arinc is working with other flight-planning providers such as Jeppesen and Universal Weather & Aviation to offer their services in modular format.
Another initiative is Arinc’s work with Spanish airline Iberia to share its flight-planning database for Spain with other carriers, and also with business aircraft operators. Flight-planning data is uploaded automatically from Iberia to Arinc, which stores it on a computer server. The other operators are notified about the availability of their flight plan and are allocated a unique number to access the uplink. As soon as the aircraft connects to the network, its crew gets a message uplinking the flight plan, as well as other information such as weather and Notams. Among the operators signing up for this service are Gestair, Executive Airlines and TAG Espana.
With Arinc Direct Mobile– launched at last year’s NBAA show–operators can create and file flight plans, view their planned route with weather radar overlays, update departure times, retrieve weather information in text format or see the status of flight plans in their account. They can also create and then either fax or e-mail a trip kit to themselves or colleagues at some other location, such as an FBO or hotel.