June 19, 2020

Getting the strongest return on investment when adding internet to a business aircraft is all about asking the right questions early and clearly conveying user needs to the MRO.

“There’s a lot of complexity to installing internet mods on an airplane,” said Justin Vena, senior sales representative with Duncan Aviation. “It’s very different depending on each type of aircraft that we’re doing a modification on.”

Getting your desired level of internet performance while limiting expenses and downtime is the focus of a new Virtual Maintenance Conference session on NBAA GO: “RFQ to Delivery – An MRO Perspective on Internet Mods.” The live Q&A starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, June 22.

Prepare Documentation

Delivering as much information to the shop as early as possible will save operators time on this sometimes-lengthy process. In particular, Vena said the Electric Load Analysis is a key piece needed when submitting a request for quote – and one of the most frequently overlooked by customers.

“It’s critical for the engineers when doing an aircraft-specific amendment to have that on hand,” said Vena. “We generally will ask for that upfront so when we get to the point where engineering needs it, there’s been plenty of time for the operator to find it.”

Determine If You Have an Existing Service Provider

“I often get the response, ‘I don’t have internet yet so who would my service provider be?’” said Vena. “Well, if the aircraft has datalink interface or phone system, this could dictate your service provider.”

Aircraft with an existing satellite communications (satcom) system may already have a router onboard, so it’s important to learn whether a router upgrade is required. Each service provider has plugins that maximize the value of the installation and user experience, so asking this question early in the process can simplify decision-making. It also saves time and money.

Understanding How Radomes Fit into The Equation

The radome protecting your satcom’s antenna needs to match your selected connectivity package. If your existing broadband uses L-band (frequencies in the 1 to 2 GHz range) and you’d like to install a product that uses Ku-band (12 to 18 GHz) or the increasingly popular Ka-band (26.5 to 40 GHz), you may need a supplemental type certificate (STC) to change the radome – a costly process which can dictate when the installation can start.

“One thing we’ve seen recently is that availability of a radome is an issue, especially with the popularity of Ka-band installations,” said Greg Hamelink, senior manager of flight operations & maintenance with Stryker Corporation.