Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Banyan Air Service is offering upgrade solutions for the more than 1,100 operators flying with Magnastar equipment. The Magnastar is a legacy in-flight telephone system found in most GIIIs and GIVs, Challenger 601s through 604s and some Falcons, Brian Wilson, Banyan director of avionics, told AIN.
“GTE Airphone designed the system for the airlines, then as an afterthought offered it to the business aviation community. As the airlines moved out of the technology it became cost prohibitive to maintain the system solely for business aviation, and the company sold the frequency band. Aircell bought it and is phasing Magnastar out. Come Jan. 1, 2014, any remaining phones will stop working.”
Wilson said several major vendors, including Aircell and TrueNorth Avionics, are offering cash incentives of as much as $20,000 on hardware acquisition to move to their technology. Banyan is offering sales and installation for Aircell, TrueNorth Avionics Systems, Honeywell and Cobham/Thrane & Thrane. A typical voice-only upgrade will range from $50,000 to $70,000, while adding connectivity for Wi-Fi can drive the cost as high as $150,000.
Wilson urges operators to act now as the demand toward the end of the year, he predicts, will far exceed the industry’s installation capacity.