Top internet connectivity trends in business aviation for 2020

Robust cybersecurity, remote support and network capacity lead the list


From mid-cabin aircraft all the way up to ultra-long-range business jets, business aviation companies are now demanding fast, “no-compromise,” reliable in-flight connectivity. But only recently has the connectivity demand for mid-cabin business aircrafts, such as the Embraer Praetor and the Gulfstream G280, increased to match that of intercontinental business jets, such as the Gulfstream G650ER.

This evolution comes as Viasat launches its high-speed, Ka-band in-flight connectivity system to global business jet operators. Viasat’s in-flight internet solution is unique because the capacity of its satellite network offers competitive advantages, which can be leveraged by owners and operators within the mid-cabin business aircraft community.

High-speed, quality internet connections are delivered from Viasat satellites, providing internet experiences that are similar to those on the ground. These include media streaming, HD video conferencing, productivity apps, email, web browsing, and IPTV services.

So what are the top four trends to consider when interested in a business aviation in-flight connectivity system?

Top 4 internet connectivity trends in business aviation

Today, owners and operators of business jets are not only looking for a connectivity solution that delivers quality service well into the future, but also for a provider that ensures data security and facilitates remote support and operational efficiencies.

1. Cybersecurity is expected by business aviation customers

Data security continues to be important to business aviation customers. They expect as much security on a business jet as they do on their own company’s local area network. Viasat is an internet service provider (ISP) to many businesses and consumers globally, but it also serves government and military agencies.

When it comes to managing the security posture of the Viasat network, business aviation customers have the advantage of leveraging Viasat’s advanced cyber hygiene practices to help mitigate hackers, malware, and viruses from accessing and corrupting the data running on the network.

For Viasat customers, threat detection and elimination occur upstream of the network. Customers can enjoy their in-flight internet experiences while knowing Viasat maintains strict security controls and measures to protect sensitive data from outside attacks.

“Customers can feel confident when it comes to the security of their data on our network. We have a seasoned team of people located in Viasat’s Cyber Security Operations Center, whose sole job is to keep our data safe. They monitor diverse traffic across our network, which provides a rich set of data to fight various adversaries.” — James Person, Senior Director of Global Business Development, Business Aviation Connectivity, Viasat

2. Internet connectivity enables remote support

In the United States alone, business jets utilize 5,000 different airports, while commercial aviation utilizes 400 airports domestically. This is an important distinction because maintaining a business jet at various airport locations could be expensive.

Person commented, “The advanced capabilities of Viasat’s in-flight connectivity system — which taps into orders of magnitude more capacity in Viasat’s satellite system as compared to competitive networks — coupled with the latest implementation of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) software, can enable a pilot or flight crew member to be the ‘smart hands’ on board for the Director of Maintenance back at home base. Performing aircraft fixes at 40,000 feet will potentially improve operational efficiencies and will reduce costs associated with aircraft on ground (AOG) expenses.”

A real-world example could see the flight crew wear commercially available AR goggles that allow maintenance experts to see exactly what is happening on the jet. If a warning light were to flash on the aircraft, the pilot would be able to report it remotely, in real-time.

The pilot or flight crew member could then follow instructions from the maintenance team, which has the capability of circling a switch or component in the AR goggles, to help troubleshoot issues.

3. Keeping current with connectivity demands

Mid-cabin business jet customers expect fast and reliable in-flight internet. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Embraer selected Viasat’s high-capacity, high-speed Ka-band connectivity solution for its Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 executive jets, as well as its Praetor 500 and 600 airframes.[1]

“We are excited to lead the industry with the Viasat solution, as it will elevate the user experience for non-stop business connectivity and in-flight entertainment. By adopting innovative technologies that deliver higher performance, we are adding true value to our customers’ experience.” — Luciano Froes, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Embraer Executive Jets

The rise in data requirements driven by video continues to increase rapidly. In fact, according to the Cisco Annual Internet Report (formerly Cisco’s Visual Networking Index or VNI), video and other applications will continue to require significant amounts of bandwidth. Today’s bandwidth needs are only a sliver of future needs: Almost 300 million mobile applications are expected to be downloaded by 2023, the most popular ones pertaining to social media, gaming, and business.

Business jet owners need to think about their current and future application, connectivity behavior, and usage demands. For example, will passengers, pilots, and crew members increase their use of in-flight video tools, virtual/augmented reality systems, and business, collaboration, and productivity applications?

“Understanding user behavior is key to understanding the amount of capacity you need to deliver to a plane,” Person continued. “The explosion of mobile applications and the expanded reach of mobile connectivity at 40,000 feet has led business jet operators to think in new terms: optimized capacity management to ensure 100% uptime.”

4. Future-proofing connectivity with unparalleled network capacity

Operators are concerned with future-proofing their aircraft. They want to know that if they choose a connectivity solution today and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it, it will also work in the future. The Viasat Ka-band solution guarantees business jet owners backward and forward compatibility, ensuring that the antenna and in-cabin systems can scale as Viasat launches new satellites.

“Viasat recognizes the need to future-proof an aircraft’s connectivity, and with our Ka-band system, we enable a solution that improves over time by taking advantage of next-generation satellites.” — James Person.

Viasat is already providing future-proof connectivity solutions. Current in-flight internet systems will be able to take advantage of next-generation satellites; customers will not need to upgrade their jets with new equipment.

Viasat satellites are truly unique in terms of network capacity, and that is what enables high-quality, high-speed connectivity to be delivered reliably to customers. An example is the ViaSat-3 satellite constellation, which is a trio of ultra-high-capacity satellites that will cover virtually the entire planet, except for the poles. Each ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to offer over 1 terabit per second (Tbps) — or 1,000 Gbps — of total network capacity to deliver a global broadband network with enough bandwidth to deliver affordable, high-speed, high-quality internet and video streaming services. The ViaSat-3 constellation is anticipated to have approximately eight times the capacity of Viasat’s current combined satellite fleet.

This article originally appears on

James Person is director of Business Development and Strategy for Viasat’s Business Aviation division