Prediction: SATCOM Will Continue to Evolve the Connected Cockpit in 2020


What does the future of connected aviation hold? That is what the Connected Aviation Today editors asked of aviation experts across the industry. Many of our experts believe that 2020 will be a year of great growth, especially as the connected aircraft emerges leveraging new technologies and communication solutions such as SATCOM.

We recently connected with Michael Hooper, director and general manager for Aviation at Iridium Communication Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM), to get his 2020 predictions for the industry. Here is what he had to say:

Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: There is a lot of opportunity for the connected ecosystem to grow and expand in 2020. What areas do you believe will see the most growth?

Connected Aviation
Michael Hooper, Director and General Manager for Aviation at Iridium Communication Inc.

Michael Hooper:  I think 2020 will be the beginning of the connected ecosystem. Aviation has always been slow to adapt, but aircraft are finally catching up to our increasingly networked world. Airlines are looking for ways to maximize operational efficiency, and a large part of this will center around aircraft mechanical and system data for use in optimizing flight hours and maintenance scheduling.

CAT Editors: How will the technology and adoption of technology evolve in 2020 to help spur this growth?

Hooper: Aircraft are becoming more networked and intelligent. The latest commercial aircraft have fully integrated systems that produce prodigious amounts of data. The lessons learned on these aircraft have gone a long way towards realizing that just because you have access to data does not mean that every bit of data should be treated the same. Early steps are being planned for how these intelligent aircraft can play a larger role in piloting the aircraft over long distances with fewer pilots on board.

CAT Editors: Are there challenges that you see on the horizon that could hinder progress, if not addressed?

Hooper: One thing I do see is that the addition of new regulations and more requirements are driving the industry towards more consolidation. This has happened across the industry at all levels from avionics to air framers. Aircraft operators are looking for the benefits of these consolidations in driving costs down, but longer term this may not be fully realized given the increased costs of new regulations and requirements.  

CAT Editors: How can industry collaborate to ensure success in 2020?

Hooper: Industry collaboration has been the hallmark of aviation for decades. The tireless volunteer dedication of company personnel in support of Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated (ARINC) standards, Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) standards, European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) job cards, etc. is a testimony to aviation. As the working group chair for Iridium on RTCA SC-222 for years and also supporting numerous ICAO job cards, I see these efforts continuing as they have been successful. I can speak for the value of these processes having also ushered in ARINC 771 for Iridium Certus.