The FAA has awarded parts manufacturer approval (PMA) to SmartSky Networks’ radio and antenna manufacturing partners, enabling production of the SmartSky 4G LTE aircraft system and facilitating STC projects to begin for several business aircraft models. Avidyne now has a PMA for the airborne radio, while AeroAntenna received approval for the aircraft antennas.
“SmartSky has examined every aspect of airborne connectivity, seeking better ways to deliver Wi-Fi performance and capacity,” said AeroAntenna CEO and founder Joe Klein. “SmartSky 4G LTE represents a quantum leap improvement [in] air-to-ground systems.”
The PMAs assure installers, including Pentastar, Chicago Jet Group, and Clay Lacy Aviation, that each of the SmartSky 4G LTE components are manufactured to the same standards. In addition, SmartSky partners can develop new STCs more rapidly using the PMA’d components.
SmartSky’s 4G LTE-based ground network has been live since 2017 and “coverage expansion remains on track to support a launch of nationwide service” this year, the company said. More than 55 percent of the sites needed to provide U.S. coverage are in their final stages of deployment, up from 40 percent just a few weeks ago, it added.