Building on its successful SKYLink(SM) satellite broadband solution for business aircraft, ARINC Incorporated today announced it will roll out a high-capacity satellite broadband system for commercial airlines. ARINC plans to demonstrate its new Commercial SKYLink(SM) system for attendees at the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference in Seattle, September 21-24.
ARINC is holding active discussions on SKYLink with several potential customers. "Four domestic airlines have already expressed interest, and we're in a second round of talks with three of them," stated Robert Thompson, Senior Director, ARINC Satellite Services. Details and preliminary pricing of the system will be available at WAEA.
"SKYLink for commercial aircraft will be smaller, cheaper, lighter and more capable than currently available broadband systems," stated Thompson.
ARINC pioneered Ku-band satellite broadband for business jets in 2003 with a 35-pound SKYLink avionics and antenna package. SKYLink satellite coverage went live over North America in April 2004, and SKYLink-equipped business jets now have 2-way broadband connectivity from coast to coast.
The commercial airline SKYLink system uses a larger, fuselage-mounted antenna to meet the bandwidth requirements of expected passenger applications such as live TV and high-speed Internet. ARINC will offer a range of configuration options including wireless 802.11a/b/g for the passenger cabin. SKYLink broadband also has the potential to deliver many enhanced types of services for the flight deck.
"Carriers thinking about broadband can keep all their options open with SKYLink," said Thompson. "We have optimized the design for retrofit, and unlike rigid OEM approaches we have kept SKYLink a highly configurable system to meet any foreseeable fleet requirements. We can even deliver the SKYLink business jet solution for low-cost carriers who want to minimize the cost and footprint of broadband."
Commercial SKYLink offers a bandwidth of 5 Mbps to the aircraft, and 256 Kbps off-aircraft. The business jet version is rated at about half of that. Both systems use the SES Americom(TM) Ku-band satellite constellation, the same system currently providing SKYLink coverage of North America. A coverage expansion is planned in 2005 to include the North Atlantic routes, Europe, and the Middle East.
ARINC plans to conduct flight testing and to pursue the required Supplementary Type Certificates (STCs) with selected carriers in the next 14 months. The first Commercial SKYLink operational installations are anticipated in late 2005.