Gogo has announced that it is lowering the altitude at which aircraft passengers can begin using its connectivity services, from 10,000 feet above ground level (AGL) to 3,000 feet AGL for a significant portion of its air-to-ground (ATG) fleet. The programme is due to begin on 20 July, 2020.
Until now, Gogo enabled access to its connectivity services beginning at 10,000ft AGL. Through software and configuration changes, as well as some modifications to the network, Gogo determined it was possible to provide service at a lower altitude using its licenced spectrum in the 850MHz range.
By enabling connectivity to begin at 3,000ft, passengers will receive up to an additional 15-20 minutes of connectivity on many flights. The service will be available on business aviation aircraft equipped with AVANCE L5 or L3 systems, and on commercial aviation regional jets equipped with Gogo ATG-4 and ACPU2 technology.
The lower service altitude will enable aircraft that fly shorter flights and spend little to no time above 10,000ft the opportunity to take advantage of in-flight connectivity for the majority of their flights. Approximately 25% of flights by Gogo-equipped regional jets have durations of less than 60 minutes.
“The additional connectivity time is a significant enhancement and will deliver even more value to customers,” said Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation. “It makes connectivity available to those who believed inflight wi-fi wasn’t an option because they fly shorter routes.”
Gogo will begin a phased process to enable service at 3,000ft through ground-system configuration and remote software updates – all without requiring any onboard manual intervention. Gogo will offer the additional service time with no additional fees.
Approximately 1,300 AVANCE systems flying in business aviation will benefit from this change, as will roughly 650, or 40%, of the commercial airline regional jets equipped with Gogo connectivity.
“By lowering the altitude where passengers can be connected, we’re improving the service to our airline customers and their passengers,” said John Wade, president of Gogo Commercial Aviation. “Passengers who fly shorter routes will now be able to be connected, allowing them to make the most of their time during those flights.”
Gogo says it has conducted hundreds of test flights of this product enhancement on approximately 50 aircraft during the past four months and has found that service at 3,000ft will be available at most locations throughout the contiguous USA.
“In our flight testing, we found that the AVANCE L5 consistently performed well at altitudes below 10,000ft and provided a quality connectivity experience for our passengers,” said Tim Eames, chief pilot for Odin 123, LLC, which participated in several test flights for Gogo. “The additional time to conduct business or make arrangements was valuable and appreciated by our passengers.”
Gogo says that the customer user experience will be similar across both the AVANCE L5 and L3 systems and on the qualifying ATG-4/ACPU2-equipped commercial fleet. Testing shows service may not be available everywhere and system performance may vary from airport to airport, but Gogo’s service guarantees apply once an aircraft reaches 10,000ft AGL.