With order book bulging for L5 in business aviation, Gogo unveils L3

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It’s a nice problem to have in the BizAv sector. Demand for Gogo Business Aviation’s AVANCE L5 air-to-ground connectivity system is so robust that the firm can’t immediately deliver the 4G systems to every customer.

“Demand for L5 systems has totally been greater than anticipated that we have a backlog that goes into the third quarter of this year,” Sergio Aguirre, the SVP leading Gogo Business Aviation, tells Runway Girl Network.

“And so we are eagerly working with our supply chain organization to increase our manufacturing. From a supplier standpoint, it makes us feel really good because we hit it out of the park. But our biggest challenge is keeping up with demand.”

Gogo saw early momentum for AVANCE L5, picking up orders across business aircraft types in North America even before the system was ready for primetime. In the fall of last year, the firm said it expects about two-thirds of its current ATG customers in BizAv will want to upgrade to AVANCE L5. And it certainly seems that this forecast is sound.

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But that hasn’t stopped Gogo Business Aviation from innovating within the AVANCE platform to offer more affordable choices to customers.

This month, the company unveiled AVANCE L3, a 3G system which “basically brings all of the features and functions of AVANCE (moving map, Bloomberg News, weather, text & talk, etc) and it’s in a smaller form factor and it’s a lot less expensive”, explains Aguirre.

A three-MCU solution, AVANCE L3 will be a natural choice for operators of light jets and turboprops. “People in the past who have not had the real estate to put a [connectivity] system on board their aircraft, they now have it with a smaller form factor with all the IFE and infotainment,” he says.

“But what we’ve also found is the size of the aircraft doesn’t really dictate, necessarily, the Internet connectivity user’s behaviors. So looking at this, it’s not so much about aircraft size but the needs of the passengers and that particular aircraft.” In short, folks who don’t fly a lot, and who only require email and voice, might install L3 even on larger aircraft.

L3 is even more compact than the L5, which has seen robust take-up in industry. Image: Gogo Business Aviation

Effectively, AVANCE L3 broadens the types of customers that Gogo Business Aviation can facilitate. It even has three different personalities or flavors, if you will, that offer different price points.

An entry-level system, referred to as L3 CORE, is designed around supporting email, voice and light Internet browsing, and it supports five people or five devices. L3 PLUS gives people access to the full 3G experience and goes from five devices to seven “and that’s very unique, because we have never had a product before in this category”, says Aguirre. “And then we have the L3 MAX which is the full 3G experience and up to 25 devices. And these each come in at different price points and the beauty is the customer can upgrade or downgrade by simply calling Gogo tech support.”

Being able to scale up and down, without touching the aircraft, is a key benefit. “In the past, we haven’t been able to crack that in the industry, to be able to go up or down.” Now Gogo can.

Of course, the firm is aware that the introduction of AVANCE L3 might make would-be L5 customers rethink whether they need that much bang for their buck. But Gogo isn’t concerned. “A large number of aircraft have already been fitted with Avance L5,” says Aguirre. This simply broadens the options. And then there’s that backlog to consider.

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