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Cabin avionics, communications and evolution of high-speed data

Cabin avionics, communications and evolution of high-speed data

Cessna Citation Columbus offers Rockwell Collins Airshow 4000, providing hi-res graphics, 3D moving map and datalink information. This latest offering can support various multimedia applications, video, audio, text and graphics, which are displayed on cabin and flightdeck monitors.

As aviators, we have seen cockpit technology evolve rapidly in terms of amenities and functions that save us time and enhance safety. So too, has the technology grown for cabin applications, where the boss continues doing business between meetings, customer visits and to and from home base.

No longer are a satellite telephone and fax machine sufficient for entrepreneurs and executives. Live e-mail, file-sharing and local area network (LAN) capabilities are essential for the modern corporate jet, whether flown solely within the US or globally.

Increased demand has caused manufacturers and suppliers to increase datalink speeds to those typically found in the office environment. This year, business aviation airframe OEMs will deliver more than 1100 turbine aircraft worldwide, representing over $ 20 billion in sales, not including aftermarket support.

The backlog should begin to abate somewhat in the 2010-12 timeframe, but the fact is that more entities are using business aviation than ever before. Videoconferencing and virtual networks work well for some, but most commerce requires direct contact. Business aviation has filled that obligation nicely and will remain a necessary tool for those seeking competitive advantage.

Products and offerings change with the rapidity of computers and even as this report goes to press the statistics will be outdated. This overview is not intended to address every single capability or manufacturer, but rather provide the reader with a synopsis of systems basics, such as antennas and satellite providers, and applications such as broadband multilink (BBML), Swift64 and SwiftBroadband.

As aviators and managers of complex turbine aircraft, it is nearly impossible to keep up with every technology change for the cockpit, much less the cabin. Yet our input is vital for upgrades and new purchases, and a working knowledge of current and future offerings is crucial to finding the right combination of equipment both for the front end and for your principals and their associates.

Since most of our time is spent up front, an occasional talk with our primary users is vital to determine their desires and expectations. Speeds as high as office T1 and T3 lines have not yet been attained, but they are close. Global coverage for these speeds remains elusive but will occur in time as well.

Read the full version of this article at www.propilotmag.com

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