A Guide to In-flight Productivity

Improvements in connectivity are enhancing in-flight productivity

Better connectivity is boosting inflight productivity and changing the way people use business jets. Passengers increasingly want to connect with others on the ground while they are flying and business jets are enabling them to do this.


Business jets are flying offices

In the past, people used business jets mainly to avoid delays at airports. Now, business jets have become flying offices that allow passengers to send emails, conduct video conferences and use their own smartphones to make calls.

Business travelers can be more productive while they are flying to have face-to-face meetings. They no longer have to spend in-flight time sleeping.

Passengers increasingly expect to expect to have access to all the things that they have at home and at the office. Business travelers are willing to tolerate many problems on the plane, but they will not tolerate a dysfunctional Internet connection.


Inflight connectivity in the United Sates

In the United States, free air-to-ground Wi-Fi connectivity is being provided by large operators like Wheels Up, NetJets and JetSuite by means of products like Aircell’s Gogo Biz system.

Although land-based antennas cost less than satellite antennas, the downside is that an air-to-ground system will lose connectivity if the plane travels farther than 50 miles from the coast.

NetJets also offers satellite connectivity on its Global 5000 and Global 6000 planes by means of Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband. These planes have a trans-Atlantic range.


Inflight connectivity in Europe

At present, air-to-ground connectivity is not available in Europe, so planes have to use satellite systems. They use the Ku-band or L-band frequencies to offer inflight connectivity to passengers.

In Europe, Internet access comes at a higher price and with slower speeds. This has resulted in lower demand than in the United States. Reports suggest that most charter customers do not activate the Wi-Fi even though it is available.

The biggest jet operator in the continent is NetJets Europe, which only provides Wi-Fi connectivity on its Bombardier Global 6000 planes. However, the company says it is looking at installing Wi-Fi across its fleet.


Passengers can control their content

Satcom Direct’s SkyShield filter can restrict automatic consumption of large amounts of data by a passenger’s mobile device as soon as the passenger connects to the SwiftBroadband internet connection. This includes software updates, which involve large downloads.

Passengers can control the amount of data that’s permitted on board the plane. Those who use a large amount of data are asked to take a higher plan to reduce the cost.

Passengers can also circumvent restrictions that may be in force in certain countries. For example, a passenger flying over China can access Facebook, Twitter and Google.


The evolution of in-flight productivity technology

The use of Internet Protocol (IP) technology services has increased and voice communications are also on the rise. This segment of the market is expected to grow with the introduction of new business jets like the Dassault Falcon 7X and Gulfstream G650, which operate their cockpits by means of IP.

The on board refrigerator on the G650 even has its own IP address, which can be used to transmit messages to the FBO whenever supplies are running low.

According to a report, email is the most commonly used service followed by web browsing and social media websites are the most popular. This is followed by instant messaging services like WhatsApp.

Industry experts agree that as inflight connectivity becomes increasingly accessible, streaming television will be the next step, and live sport is likely to be a big hit.