The proposed ban on large electronic items on flights into the United States is unlikely to apply to business jets, it is believed.
At present, the current ban which has been in place since March does not apply to business jets flying into the US from the list of affected Middle East airports (or other, smaller airports in those countries).
At the EBACE event this week in Geneva, satellite connectivity provider Inmarsat was announcing that its Jet ConneX product had been selected a line-fit option by four major business jet manufacturers – Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream.
Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat’s vice president of business and general aviation, said:
“Fortunately the ban does not cover business aviation so far as it stands today. On any flight, even from the Middle East, you can still carry these devices. If the ban does come in, and we hope it doesn’t, it would make a strong case for using a business jet using a charter or fractional service.”
Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX service offers global, high-speed internet access using its own Ka-band satellite network. Data plans of up to 15Mbps are available, with consistent global coverage across 100 percent of major airline routes. Inmarsat designs, owns and operates its own satellite capacity and recently launched its fourth Ka-band satellite with SpaceX last week.
Although the satellite technology is the same that business travellers know from commercial jets, the speeds achieved are slightly different. Ironically, on commercial flights it might be a slightly quicker connection because of the use of fuse mounted antennae as opposed to tail mounted antennae, but since there are far fewer people on a business jet the experienced speed is greater. Weidemeyer cited examples of corporate operators sending in pictures of 10 or 11 devices streaming content while using the service in the air.
There is also the advantage that while commercial airlines always switch off coverage over areas such as India and Pakistan, some business jet providers are more likely to take a lax line.
“We encourage all our clients to abide by the regulatory regime, but it is not us who turns off the service, it is the airlines that turn it off because they don’t have regulatory approval to operate over those areas. It’s up to the business jet operator to make sure they follow the rules, but there is coverage worldwide, that’s what we’re offering.”