Looking Ahead: NextGen Avionics and Value-Driven Upgrades

October 5, 2021

By Jarid King
King Aerospace president

Advances in aviation never stop. Our customers have completed their ADS-B installation requirements in accordance with the Jan. 1, 2020, mandate, enabling them to access airspace that requires it. Having ticked off that box, they’ve turned to other things. Customers with Boeing 737 and Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) VVIP aircraft, for example, have shifted their focus to connectivity upgrades. To date, we have installed Honeywell Ka-band, Gogo and SatCom Direct. In October, we’re scheduled to do an Iridium system.

We introduce our customers to providers ­– primarily Honeywell and Gogo ­– who help determine the best solution. Toward the end of connectivity installations, we do flight tests on trial accounts. Afterward, customers switch to data plans they choose working directly with the provider. We don’t insert ourselves into that. And, of course, it’s not just operators of long-range, large-cabin aircraft who want in-flight connectivity to function as robustly as ground-based offices. We support numerous other aircraft, including midsize and light jets.

So far we have not had many customers requesting the ability to enable in-flight streaming. Costs can get so expensive. That seems at odds with the value of these aircraft, but at some point, the price to stream exceeds what common sense dictates – even if you’re a head of state or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Every customer wants value and a strong return on investment. While 90% of our maintenance work is for Boeing 737s, we respond to and welcome customer requests for other aircraft in their fleets – Challengers, Citations, Learjets – you name it. Many of these requests come about through our paint services, which are widely known to be excellent. Customers then learn of our equally stellar maintenance capabilities and want to tap into that.

As private aviation starts leveraging the ability to use real-time, analytics-driven operational data, we expect to start getting inquiries from operators looking for connectivity upgrades that support flight operation and maintenance-related applications. It’s coming. And we’re ready.