Satcom Direct (SD) is delivering high-speed connectivity to the world's first VVIP Airbus ACJ320neo. Acropolis Aviation, the UK-based VVIP charter operator selected SD for its ability to deliver a custom-made connectivity solution that can meet the demanding needs of crew and passengers on board the definitive executive airliner, while also supporting and enhancing ground operations.
A combination of SD hardware and software delivers ultra-high-speed data service throughout the aircraft using Inmarsat's Jet ConneX data service. Customised configuration designed specifically for the ACJ320neo integrates dual SDR Gateway routers paired with SD WiFi hubs, to ensure consistent network availability throughout the cabin. In the flight deck, SD FlightDeck Freedom datalink service enables secure communications for flight crew and supports automated alerts to the flight deck, such as geo-notifications, route alerts and security alerts.
On the ground, the Acropolis Aviation flight department uses data management platform SD Pro to centralise flight planning and synchronise operations with enhanced visibility into aircraft and network performance. The open architecture software platform enables integration with third-party providers, including weather, fuel and trip planning systems, and is designed to support future connectivity developments and aircraft insights.
The SD integration team worked closely with Switzerland-based MRO and completion centre AMAC Aerospace to support the system installation. SD conducted a number of configuration design reviews and participated in testing, alongside AMAC technicians, to ensure optimisation of the cabin network and phone systems. The fully redundant network ensures every passenger can simultaneously access data to support internet, phone, text and voice messaging, app usage, video conferencing and live TV streaming, without interruption.
Tailored entry-into-service (EIS) sessions were delivered to the Acropolis Aviation flight department, crew and operations team at the ACJ320neo's home base of Farnborough airport, also the location of SD's international headquarters. The SD EIS programme offers professional on-site instruction about each specific aircraft connectivity system configuration and aims to facilitate the best customer experience. Sessions devoted to SD Pro detailed full system capability, including the advanced connectivity module, which provides detailed analysis of network activity. In addition to providing visibility on data usage, the platform also enables flight tracking and forecasts any potential communications disruptions during flight. As this is the first VVIP configuration of the ACJ320neo, SD also created a bespoke connectivity manual providing easy reference to the training materials designed exclusively for the Acropolis Aviation team.
“As we bring into service the world's first Airbus ACJ320neo we naturally wanted to integrate secure connectivity services that reliably deliver powerful connectivity to our passengers. The aircraft can easily make 12-hour flights and we want all our passengers to have the option to be connected to high-speed broadband without any compromise in speed and functionality,” says Acropolis Aviation CEO Jonathan Bousfield. “Satcom Direct is providing a service that meets these needs and more. The 24/7 customer support, the company's global presence and the ability to facilitate a connectivity system customised to our specific needs was critical and drove our decision to work with SD on this project.”
Michael Skou Christensen, SD vice president international adds: “Our clients expect us to deliver the highest standards, and we want to meet and exceed those expectations in terms of connectivity in flight, as well as for operations on the ground. A customised connectivity solution implementing the full capabilities of SD Xperience with both hardware and software, supported by our award-winning customer service and ground infrastructure, allows us to satisfy those requirements.”
Acropolis introduced the world’s first ACJ320neo in March this year, five years after announcing the launch order at EBACE in 2015. Its cabin was outfitted by AMAC by Alberto Pinto lead designer Yves Pickardt. The aircraft features a 19-seat cabin with sleeping for 17, focused on wellbeing for 12-hour flights, without compromising on luggage capacity. Delivering the highest levels of comfort, the aircraft has an average cabin altitude of 6,400 ft.