Last month, our editorial team spoke with various leaders in the aviation industry to discuss their reflections on 2018. Many said that 2018 was a year of transition and change for the connected aviation industry. So how do they see the industry progressing in 2019?
As a follow up to our earlier article, we sat down with Michael Hooper, director and general manager for Aviation at Iridium Communication Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM), to get his predictions for the industry in the new year. Not only does Hooper expect to see major milestones for Iridium with the completion of the Iridium NEXT network, but he also expects to see the aviation industry adopt new technologies. Read below for the full interview:
Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: What technologies and solutions do you believe will make a significant impact on the connected aviation ecosystem in 2019?
Michael Hooper: Speaking for Iridium, the completion of the Iridium NEXT network in early 2019 and the launch of Iridium CertusSM services for aviation later in the year will enable operators to have a real choice of L-band broadband IP services. This has been a long time coming, and it has not been an easy road, but we are close to the finish line now.
CAT Editors: Any advice for how industry can collaborate with operators and government to ensure that advances are made?
Hooper: There has been a long standing involvement of operators, government, service providers and manufacturers in advancing technology, and I see this continuing. However, things are changing, and the industry must adapt in order to advance technology. For example, in the past year, the role of the FAA has been in transition, the RTCA (Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) has severed direct oversight from the FAA. ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) outreach with industry is growing in the delivering of their Air System Block Upgrade for global Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems and ARINC standards has a heavier work load than ever.
There is a lot of work underway on new regulatory documents, new ICAO documents, new ARINC standards, and other activities that can only be achieved through full industry support. To date, the industry has responded to support these efforts, and I see this continuing through 2019 and beyond.
CAT Editors: If 2018 was the year of transition, as you stated earlier, what do you predict for 2019?
Hooper: It will be the year of the connected aircraft. Aircraft operators across all verticals are looking to do far more with information transmitted from the aircraft. Whether this is mechanical system data, flight operational quality assurance (FOQA), maintenance operational quality assurance (MOQA), helicopter emergency medical services/health and usage monitoring system (HEMS/HUMS), black box data, or other services, the role of SATCOM will be fully embraced. For Iridium, this will be an exciting time as we will see the first products on the market in support of aircraft operators.