As the year 2019 kicks off, the Connected Aviation Today team is sharing a series of 2019 predictions from various voices in the aviation industry. To learn more about the business aviation space, we spoke with Lupita Wilson, Principal Marketing Manager for Collins Aerospace. Wilson spoke with us about the rising adoption of high throughput satellite services and how the business aviation market is harnessing the power of the growing data pipelines. Here’s what she had to say during our discussion:
Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: What technologies and solutions do you believe will make a significant impact in business aviation in 2019?
Lupita Wilson: The business aviation market is extremely dynamic going into the new year as aircraft are starting to install high throughput satellites terminals (HTS) and utilize services like Inmarsat Jet ConneX. The aircraft itself is becoming a very rich data source, so it’s important for the hardware to have the ability to send and receive data to be analyzed for a wide variety of purposes.
Data analytics is a recent phenomenon for business aviation compared to the commercial markets. It’s pertinent now because an increasing number of aircraft are equipped with HTS terminals. Big data and data analytics are important topics moving into 2019, as they can be used for predictive maintenance as well as to improve flight safety and manage potential flight disruptions.
Another interesting trend we are seeing for 2019 is the increase of broadband entrants into the business aviation market, offering operators additional connectivity options. Noteworthy are Ku band satellites which will rival the speeds of Ka band, Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN) that addresses the European airspace and Iridium Certus.
CAT Editors: Is there expected legislation, regulation, or guidelines in place that will help propel the industry along?
Wilson: This is less along the lines of legislation or regulation, but I think the biggest shift in the business aviation market is the growth of charter operations and the focus on the passenger experience for the connected aircraft.
As it relates to legislation, the satellite communication industry will face the challenge of providing true global coverage. They will need to address regulatory obstacles or create partnerships to operate in specific countries like Russia, China, or Brazil.
What challenges will the industry need to address in the coming year?
Wilson: With connectivity being as dynamic as it is, there will always be new challenges. As I mentioned earlier, there will be new broadband entrants in 2019, so while this is great for the operators, it also presents a challenge for them. They are faced with the task of deciding what is the right solution – it is difficult for operators to narrow down which solution is best for them and decide when to install.
Inmarsat has been the incumbent with SwiftBroadband and Jet ConneX. Inmarsat has seen huge success in the market since launching in 2016 with JetConneX installed in over 400 aircraft. But with the market becoming more diverse, they will face stiff competition from other players in the satellite communication market. I expect operators will benefit from this competition.
With that, I think in 2019 we will see an increasing demand for high broadband connectivity, demonstrating that in 2018, the market was underserved.
CAT Editors: Any advice for how industry can collaborate with operators and government to ensure that advances are made?
Wilson: We need to remember that passengers and operators want an easier way to accomplish their mission, utilizing solutions that are simple and user-friendly.
One can compare the cabin connectivity market to the mobile phone industry. In both markets, customers seek solutions which are intuitive with a variety of choices of service providers. The customer can choose the best option at the right price based on the services offered by each of those providers.
CAT Editors: Summarize 2018 for us and then share what you predict for 2019. It will be the year of _____ (fill in the blank).
Wilson: The year 2018 was focused on ADS-B installations on business aviation aircraft to meet the FAA deadline. It was also a year of increased adoption of Jet ConneX, validating that the business aviation market is ready to embrace a mass adoption for HTS solutions. I believe 2019 will be the year that solidifies highspeed broadband connectivity as a must-have when flying. We will see fierce competition in the HTS segment. With more connectivity options for operators, I anticipate a broader adoption on long range aircraft. As additional aircraft are connected, usage of data analytics will become more prevalent in developing the connected aircraft ecosystem.