SMARTSKY INTRODUCES FIRST 4G LTE-BASED CONNECTIVITY FOR LIGHT-JET AND TURBOPROP
It’s easy for light aircraft operators to feel like all the inflight connectivity focus is on larger-cabin, longer-range jets. Anyone in the industry can tell you, however, that operators of turboprops and light jets have always been vital to business aviation – and that their impact is poised to grow. Today’s announcement of the new SmartSky LiTE™ system propels that movement, delivering the power of 4G LTE connectivity to this market for the first time.
“The legacy inflight connectivity providers have forced light-jet and turboprop owners to endure extremely slow inflight internet for far too long,” says SmartSky Networks President Ryan Stone. “We will change that with SmartSky LiTE™, the only streaming-capable 4G LTE-based system tailored specifically for aircraft up to 19,000 pounds max takeoff weight (MTOW). SmartSky LiTE™ makes flying safer, more comfortable and more efficient, while delivering an office-in-the-sky experience to this previously underserved, yet significant, market.”
Turboprop and light-jet operators will have full access to blazing-fast internet throughout the aircraft, providing connectivity for both the flight deck and aircraft systems, as well as in the cabin. Only SmartSky LiTE™ operates with low latency which is crucial for real-time video streaming, voice conversations and messaging applications – and for which there are also no incremental charges from SmartSky (although provider charges may apply).
SmartSky LiTE™ is designed to appeal to pilot owner-operators as well as charter and fractional companies who want fast inflight Wi-Fi in both cockpit and cabin. SmartSky LiTE™ customers will also be able to access Skytelligence™-powered applications from other providers such as those designed to optimize fuel management, maximize flight planning efficiencies, monitor weather or access dynamically optimized re-routing recommendations.
“The pilot will now have the connectivity to see weather in high-definition and optimally adjust the flight plan, in real time, while the family streams the latest movie, surfs the web or video chats,” says Stone.
Pricing has been designed for this value-driven market. By making a $1,000 deposit, initial customers will be signed up for an affordable monthly subscription that allows them to pay for actual usage, while still allowing unlimited access to data. To celebrate the launch of SmartSky LiTE™, SmartSky is offering a special introductory rate of $75 per connected hour. The airborne hardware is projected to cost less than $50,000, and up to six onboard devices will be able to access the internet at the same time.
“Business demands real connectivity,” says Stone. “SmartSky LiTE™ adds to an aircraft’s resale value. Consistent, reliable, fast Wi-Fi isn’t just a good thing to have, it’s table stakes.”
The SmartSky LiTE™ system will operate over the same patented, tested, certified and secure SmartSky 4G LTE-based network currently being launched nationwide later this year. Through its partners, SmartSky plans to secure supplemental type certificates (STCs) for popular light jets and turboprops, and expects SmartSky LiTE™ to be commercially available for installation in early 2019.
“I applaud the effort of SmartSky Networks to extend better inflight connectivity to turboprops and light jets,” says Rollie Vincent, Rolland Vincent Associates. “Our industry welcomes innovations, such as the SmartSky LiTE™ solution, that make hardworking aircraft even more efficient ¬and capable of facilitating business just as if you were on the ground. This is a well-received development, and much needed, to bring the productivity solutions we have come to expect on the ground to this vital segment of the business and general aviation market.”