During a demonstration flight held during NBAA 2017, Gogo Business Aviation highlighted the capabilities of its Avance L5 high-speed air-to-ground connectivity system. The flight was in a Gulfstream GIV-SP operated by Executive Jet Management, with the Avance L5 installation performed by Duncan Aviation.
Gogo Avance L5 leverages the company’s existing ground antenna network with a new set of airborne hardware connected to two antennas mounted, in the GIV-SP’s case, on the lower aft fuselage. The new antennas provide connection to two towers at once, versus one with Gogo’s older 3G system. As a result, Avance L5 offers much higher throughput, on par with LTE cellular systems.
On the one-hour flight, which took a dozen passengers at 24,000 feet over parts of Nevada and California, AIN editor-in-chief Matt Thurber tested various smart-device apps and access to websites.
I tested Netflix streaming on my iPhone 6S+, and it worked perfectly, including while simultaneously downloading another app update. Amazon Prime Video worked, but at a lower-than-normal resolution. I tried a Facebook Messenger video call, and that worked, but the video cut in and out a few times. Maximum throughput during the flight was 7 Mbps, and at least five people successfully streamed Netflix movies while others made Apple FaceTime calls simultaneously.
Emailing using the Apple mail app allowed me to send a full-size iPhone photo, but not an attached video. I was also able to send the same photo using the Messages app, including via SMS. The Slack messaging app worked, but not for sending an attached photo. The Twitter app quickly uploaded a tweet and photo. Customers can also use the Gogo Vision app for entertainment options stored onboard and its Text & Talk app for communications.
Gogo Business Aviation v-p aftermarket sales Dave Salvador explained that passengers will experience varying levels of success with different products and apps. Some companies are much better at managing bandwidth, he explained, and Netflix is among the best.
Overall I found the Gogo Avance L5 experience much better than the original 3G service. Gogo is still selling the 3G equipment and service, according to Salvador, but an unexpected result of the deployment of the new Avance L5 equipment is that owners of smaller aircraft are asking for quotes for the faster product.