SmartSky Networks, a US air-to-ground (ATG) inflight connectivity provider, has launched SmartSky Private Intranet (PI) routing powered by its Skytelligence services platform.
The PI is deployed using an aircraft interface device (AID) and routes data traffic privately to and from the aircraft utilising SmartSky's next generation network and patented beam-forming technology that assigns a separate connection to each aircraft with no bandwidth sharing like that found on other airborne networks. Once the data traffic reaches the SmartSky ground network, it is securely routed through one of the company's three private data centres directly to the customer's corporate enterprise network, giving aircraft owners and operators the option for their inflight data traffic to completely bypass the internet and to determine how and when it is routed externally. SmartSky PI enables the aircraft to function as a true node on the customer's corporate enterprise network instead of as an exception.
SmartSky PI is made possible by the company's proprietary Skytelligence services layer that connects the AID to the SmartSky ATG network and moves the customer's data traffic according to their specifications. This combination of a secured IFC network, AID and direct custom routing of data traffic to a corporate network represents the first-ever, end-to-end private inflight Wi-Fi connection. This makes a VPN unnecessary when using the airborne network and secures not only the transfer of data to and from the cabin, but also all other aircraft data transferred while in flight.
The PI service enables aviation customers with SmartSky equipped aircraft to add a new level of security to their inflight data beyond the cabin Wi-Fi, now including electronic flight bags (EFB) and aircraft health monitoring. Accessing 60 MHz of spectrum in the unlicensed band, the SmartSky inflight connectivity network utilises 20 times the bandwidth of legacy ATG systems. This means plenty of capacity and sustained performance for aircraft operations as well as real-time transfer of critical maintenance and performance data. This means the cockpit can now be more responsive to changes in flight conditions, improving safety and flight efficiency. Vital flight data can be offloaded inflight to allow ground crews to be prepared for maintenance needs upon landing, reducing AOG time.
“The capability for Private Internet showcases several dimensions of the way SmartSky is changing inflight connectivity beyond the cabin, enabling new levels of privacy, security and performance for the entire aircraft and the industry. SmartSky PI is enabling the connected aircraft, today,” says Sean Reilly, vice president for digital solutions and air transport. “It gives an organisation's IT department complete oversight and control of inflight data transmissions of users on board, greatly enhancing information security and data sovereignty versus what is available with legacy ATG and satellite systems in use today. In a world where cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and complex, SmartSky's Private Intranet helps aircraft operators to have confidence that their inflight communications and data are secured, simplifying compliance with aircraft network security programmes. Skytelligence helps us move the right data to the right place at the right time with a secure connection, whether that's data from the aircraft with an AID, data from FAA SWIM or data from any of our partners.”
SmartSky Private Intranet was unveiled at the New Products Introduction (NPI) session at the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) annual conference in Orlando, Florida, the industry's biggest avionics related gathering of the year.