SmartSky has announced the completion of all technical milestones for its broadband ATG network and has opened the first fully operational coverage zone of its next-generation inflight communications network. This step enables route-based flight demonstrations to being and marks an inflection point on the path to certification of the network and its commercial launch later this year.
SmartSky says it has now proven it can provide office-grade, bi-directional, multi-Mbps inflight connectivity with very low latency for business jet and turboprop flights transiting the network’s Southeastern USA corridor, which covers a large contiguous portion of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
SmartSky CEO, David Helfgott, stated, “While our primary goal remains lighting up the remainder of the nationwide network in the coming months, today we are showcasing the unparalleled inflight networking capabilities and advanced services that SmartSky is bringing to market for the connected aircraft ecosystem of operators, manufacturers, service providers and passengers.”
The company says its has undertaken “months of successful field testing” to ensure that the entire system performs to specification. Smartsky also says that extensive technical milestones have been achieved, including seamless site-to-site handover across varying speeds, altitudes and ranges, with consistently high data throughput above both rural and densely populated urban areas.
The company also claims its patented (over 200 patents) beamforming and spectrum re-use technologies successfully performed across sectors and sites throughout the entire corridor, proving the network’s design functions well, even in the presence of high signal noise from ground-based wi-fi systems.
“It’s a testament to the strength of our technical team and supplier-partners, as together we’ve successfully developed and fielded a feature-complete, game-changing service based on an optimal mix of proven 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies that have been adapted to and optimised for the aviation use-case,” said Dave Claassen, SmartSky’s chief technology officer.
SmartSky’s use of secure, scalable beamforming technology and unlicenced 60MHz spectrum delivers advantages for inflight communications, from office-grade wi-fi to real-time maintenance-related data and inflight trajectory management, with large capacity for data transmissions both to and from the aircraft and a real-time, low latency, bidirectional data link.