NBAA Convention News

'New' Magnastar to strictly serve bizjets

 - October 19, 2010, 10:08 AM

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" /><title>Untitled Document</title> <style type="text/css"> body p { font-family: Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif; } .cmsfont { font-family: Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif; } </style> TrueNorth Avionics, LiveTV Airfone and Satcom Direct announced Monday that they will team to develop and market a next-generation Magnastar system that will enable the first terrestrial network providing voice, data, Wi-Fi, smartphone support, e-mail, text messaging and multichannel VOIP for a complete business solution.

Using the existing Magnastar earth station network, the new system will operate through hardware derived from TrueNorth's open-architecture Simphone OpenCabin system as an upgrade for existing Magnastar operators and also available to new customers. Satcom Direct will manage the service and handle all billing. Airfone's current voice and data services will be augmented by added automatic switching to Iridium satellite communications when out of range of Magnastar ground stations.

TrueNorth and LiveTV (owned by JetBlue) will co-develop the new system hardware by combining a new Magnastar radio with TruNorth's Simphone. It will use LiveTV's exclusive FCC-licensed "clear channel" 1 MHz air-to-ground frequency band.

TrueNorth president Mark van Berkel said the "new" Magnastar is designed strictly to serve the business jet community, and will therefore not be subject to inconveniences common to services targeting both the airline passenger mass market and business aircraft travelers. He added that, unlike other terrestrial service providers, the new Magnastar will include voice along with its toolbox of data functions.

TrueNorth Avionics is at Booth No. 5903 to showcase new features that enable worldwide e-mailing and monitoring of inflight communication usage. The Ottawa, Canada, company is demonstrating the recently introduced TrueNorth Express, a plug-in hardware module that lets owners of virtually any airborne telephone use their smartphones to send and receive e-mails worldwide over the Iridium network.

"Basically," said van Berkel, "TrueNorth Express provides a self-contained Wi-Fi 'hot spot' for e-mail over smartphones." It will support all such phones, including BlackBerry, iPhone and Android. At an introductory price of $10,995, modules are available now.

Following the success of that product, TrueNorth Avionics has introduced two new devices, designed specifically for Magnastar operators, that will serve implementation of the next generation Magnastar by enabling e-mail through the LiveTV Airfone network. Express Portable is a laptop-size carryon unit that plugs into an existing Magnastar system. Express for Magnastar is a hard-wired box providing the same function.

Meanwhile, TrueNorth is developing a new software app called InControl to help aircraft operators manage in-flight broadband usage of its Simphone¯ OpenCabin airborne system. InControl can track usage on all off-aircraft networks and allot a specific volume of broadband traffic to each passenger. TrueNorth says the InControl app lets the operator control almost any aspect of service. The InControl software program is simply downloaded to an existing Simphone OpenCabin system, with no hardware installation required.

Van Berkel commented, "For the first time, operators can have complete confidence that their [OpenCabin] service levels are predictable and that they know exactly who's using what type and volume of service."