SmartSky Networks’ ground-based inflight connectivity (IFC) solution will soon be coming to regional and business aircraft. StandardAero has received approval to install SmartSky’s 4G LTE aircraft system in Embraer regional and business jets. The MRO provider was awarded Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval via its Organization Design Authorization (ODA) from the FAA for installations on Embraer ERJ 135/140/145 series and Legacy 600/650 aircraft models.
According to John Miedwig, certification services director for StandardAero, the STC will enable a “significant section of the aviation community” to access the IFC solution. “The demand for a more compelling user experience is driving our customers to new IFC networks and services like those SmartSky has demonstrated to the marketplace,” he adds.
SmartSky Networks says its 4G LTE system is a high-speed wireless internet solution for aircraft that allows for better inflight data speeds at lower rates thanks to connectivity built on an air-to-ground platform of cellular towers rather than satellites. According to the company, ground-based components of the system are currently being deployed throughout the U.S. using a mix of 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies.
StandardAero says it will perform Embraer installations at its business aviation service locations, which include Augusta, Georgia; Houston, Texas and Springfield, Illinois. The company first signed an agreement with SmartSky Networks to certify and install the system in 2015, beginning STC development through its in-house FAA ODA delegation in 2016. StandardAero says it is now working on additional business aviation STC for the system for Embraer Legacy 450/500 and Dassault Falcon 7X, 8X and 50EX aircraft.
SmartSky installation STC are expected to increase now that the FAA has awarded Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) to SmartSky Networks’ radio and antenna manufacturing partners Avidyne and AeroAntenna, enabling full-rate production of the system. The system’s first FAA STC was obtained by Avidyne in early 2018 for installation on the Cessna Citation Excel and PMA approval was secured shortly after.
SmartSky Networks recently closed a $104 million round of funding, which the company says it will use in the ongoing rollout of its nationwide air-to-ground network. The company has raised nearly $350 million in funding to date.