#PaxEx Podcast: Bending Bluetooth to become an onboard network

Rotation

Welcome to Episode 52 of the #PaxEx Podcast. Our guest for this episode is Ron Chapman, who serves as president of ASI Group, which provides low-cost inflight connectivity solutions to the business aviation market, and is now working in the commercial airline space. Based in Australia, Chapman has over 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, having pioneered new technologies and world firsts in-flight.

Firstly, the Teal Group is forecasting that business aircraft deliveries won’t return to 2008 peak levels until 2021. But as new deliveries have stagnated, we know that older aircraft are being refurbished with various #PaxEx upgrades. Chapman has a unique perspective on this topic since ASI Group serves the business aviation market with a variety of low-cost solutions, including a system that uses Bluetooth and Iridium satcom to deliver voice, SMS and email. He tells co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby that ASI Group has managed to “bend and twist Bluetooth” to become a network on board, and explains why Iridium’s next generation NEXT constellation and aero service is hotly anticipated in this market.

Next, ASI Group is also bringing a new Bluetooth-based e-commerce platform to airlines. The ffly system, which is being pitched as an alternative to classic wifi connectivity on board, can be installed at little or no cost. The product sounds almost too good to be true, but Chapman insists it’s possible, and says the low-bandwidth offering has already been effectively whitelisted by Lufthansa Systems, and will be rolled out by other IFEC players to boot.

Last but not least, broadband connectivity is increasingly considered the cost of doing business for the world’s premier airlines. And the competition for aircraft tails has grown fierce, with several companies waging battle for supremacy. Certain industry stakeholders are now predicting consolidation, reasoning that there are simply too many players, and that some are suffering financially. Chapman shares his thoughts on the matter, and whether he forecasts a shake-out in the industry.

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