SmartSky Networks, an inflight connectivity provider for aviation, has passed an unspecified “important network deployment milestone” on its way towards beginning commercial operations during Q2 2020. This achievement has led to SmartSky receiving an additional US$25 million from funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities team at BlackRock.
Funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities platform at BlackRock previously committed to a US$75 million credit facility, with US$50 million drawn initially. The final US$25 million was contingent upon the company making “substantial progress” on the US nationwide network rollout, which it achieved in November.
“SmartSky has consistently been able to attract capital from top companies because there is strong support for our technology in aviation connectivity,” said Haynes Griffin, SmartSky chairman and CEO. “We appreciate the continued confidence from a respected and sophisticated firm such as BlackRock.”
SmartSky’s connectivity network is based on a novel single-beam-per-aircraft approach using proven 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies. After eight years of development backed by more than 140 patents and over 1,000 hours of flight testing (including by aircraft owners, airlines, fleet managers and journalists), SmartSky’s network is progressing towards a 2020 launch.
“Customers have a huge pent-up demand for a fully capable airborne network that provides a phenomenal 10x better experience in the sky while also opening significant possibilities for advancing aviation in maintenance, environmental, operational, financial, and other areas,” added Ryan Stone, SmartSky president.
SmartSky is also implementing Skytelligence, a digital solutions platform that enables advanced applications and services. For example, SmartSky recently announced that Skytelligence services support its collaboration with the IATA’s crowdsourced effort to mitigate and avoid turbulence in real time across the skies. The results are expected to lower turbulence-related injuries, provide smoother flights, and save costly aircraft repairs for both business and commercial aviation.