Airborne connectivity is becoming an important subject, capable of providing service differentiation and/or revenue generation for airlines, according to their business model. Following the demise of Connexion by Boeing (CBB) a number of companies have entered the market but a comparison with CBB is difficult due the varying claims that each is making. The result is a highly confusing picture for a potential customer, particularly under the current economic climate.
While the main airframe manufacturers remain optimistic on medium term sales, many industry analysts expect a growing probability that by the end of this year new aircraft may be coming off the production lines quicker than the market can absorb or pay for them. Last year’s fuel crisis has already contributed to the insolence of many struggling aircraft operators but the banking crisis had an even bigger impact. The difficulty to arrange finance continues to throttle growth in all aviation sectors over the coming months. Thus, the economic downturn is likely to reduce the number of immediate aerosatcom projects and to greatly affect their prospects for some time to come.
The main objective and scope of the study is to assess the commercial and technical feasibility of a number of non-safety (i.e. APC and AAC) aeronautical communication solutions and business models in order to identify the commercial viability and technical feasibility of current and emerging connectivity solutions for the Air Transport, Business Aviation and Government market segments.
Cost/Benefit evaluation criteria are:
As many business analyses and market estimations have shown, the demand for in-flight satcom connectivity is attractive. Nevertheless the number of failed attempts to realise this opportunity is a concern. Additionally, the business environment and the infrastructure of the traditional service provider are undergoing a fundamental transition to a multi-service, multi-system business, converging on a mobile IP network architecture. Finally, despite the current gloom surrounding airline profits and passenger numbers, most industry analysts expect growth to return at some point – potentially leading to satellite network capacity issues.
As such, the project was focused on delivering guidance for an assessment of the success chances of current and emerging aerosatcom solutions and offerings, their key success indicators and their critical challenges. The project objective was to generate data and information with direct relevance for:
The Business Analysis and the associated Business Cases addressed:
As with any other prospective study, the key issue was the identification and sufficiently detailed definition of realistic scenarios and their parameters for the future. For this study this specifically meant to identify and investigate:
To fulfil these tasks, the study team could rely on a large network of experts from various aviations sectors and on experience gained in past and current aerosatcom related research projects, such as WirelessCabin, MOWGLY, ANASTASIA, NEWSKY and SANDRA.
The main outputs of this study are:
The study is structured into 4 main work packages:
A main element of the study was an Expert Input Workshop, held shortly after project kickoff to ensure that a wider user & expert view and experience regarding both technical and commercial aspects of the aerosatcom domain is taken into account in the study.
The study objectives were extended in a CCN to additionally cover the following areas of investigation:
The project was started on Oct 1st 2009 and concluded in Sept 2011, with the CCN covering the period from May to Sept 2011.