Did you know that the African continent is large enough to simultaneously accommodate all of China, the USA, the UK, Japan, India, Eastern Europe, Germany, France, Spain and Italy within its landmass? Only with this visualization can the continent’s vastness be truly appreciated.
Africa comprises some 54 countries, each with their own cultures, economies, languages, and resources.
For the last decade, it has also been home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and, more than ever, is now welcoming an increasing interest from international and internal investment. Leading governments, commerce and regulators have begun to realize that business aviation is a valuable business tool that drives economies and complements commercial airline activity. It is a force multiplier as it increases workforces, initiates training programs and adds value to countries supporting its development. As Papa Demuren, former Director of the Nigerian CAA, reputedly said about African infrastructure development, Give me a mile of road, and I’ll drive you a mile; give me a mile of runway, and I’ll show you the world. Where business aviation leads, economic resilience, and expansion follow.
The importance of the sector for the great swathes of land that need to be covered by operators flying over it is driving the need for connectivity. Charlie Arter, Chief Pilot of BAR Aviation, a premier provider of aviation services in Uganda and Satcom Direct client, says, “African business aviation is a growing market, with large numbers of passengers attracted by its convenience – for both work and pleasure. However, flying across this huge continent often means longer flights and connectivity is a massive challenge. Our clients, particularly VIPs, simply can’t afford to be offline on a 4- or 8-hour flight. They must be connected.”
This is why, as more connectivity drives more applications and satellite operators launch new or upgrade existing satellite constellations, Satcom Direct is simplifying, extending and adding operational possibilities for our African customers as we continue presenting new connectivity opportunities in the region.
David Falberg, VP International for SD, says, “The options for GEO- and LEO- supported coverage in Africa are growing. At SD, we are already working with the Intelsat FlexExec network to deliver Ku-band services via our Plane Simple® Ku-band tail mount antenna. The PS Ka-band version will connect with the Inmarsat Global Xpress network once testing is completed and is expected to be flying on customer tails by 2024. For our African customers, this advanced technology is minimally invasive, service plans are flexible, and it is futureproofed as we’ve built the system on open architecture, meaning it will be compatible with technology yet to come down the line. We are protecting our customers’ investment.”
SD is also launching a Plane Simple electronically steered array antenna. The flat panel format will equip smaller aircraft – think Citation X -size – and deliver Ku-band connectivity from the OneWeb network. African owners and operators will have more choice when connecting aircraft with genuinely global connectivity.
“Plane Simple is the premium system on the market,” says Arter. “It’s impressive both in terms of performance and coverage, offering not just high speeds and global coverage but a truly consistent experience for everyone on-board.” BAR Aviation has recently had the Plane Simple Ku-band terminal and SDR® Router equipped on a Challenger 604. The Florida-based MRO Constant Aviation undertook the work, which saw BAR Aviation benefit from reduced costs and downtime thanks to the simple installation.
Purpose-built for business aviation, only two LRUs are required that are linked by common cabling, which can join all the SD Plane Simple antennas, making upgrades easy as mission needs change. Arter also adds, “SD’s flexible payment plans make it even more attractive, enabling us to control our costs while keeping our clients happy – that’s a real competitive advantage.”
The SD experience has proved outstanding for BAR Aviation, with passengers enjoying consistent connectivity speeds. A typical flight will transport six to ten executives or VIPs flying with family all running devices simultaneously with parents working, while the accompanying family enjoys Netflix.
The CL604 is also used for medical evacuations, and the SD Plane Simple connectivity has played a vital operational role in ensuring constant comms with medical staff, logistics and flight operations. This is life-saving. BAR Aviation is currently one of the first suppliers of a high-speed data flight option in the region and is inspiring other operators. “We have a growing list for the Plane Simple Ku-band antenna installation in the area,” confirms Falberg.
BAR Aviation confirms that the customer support is invaluable. Arter says that SD delivers outstanding service, the highest quality of support and the utmost professionalism. “We simply can’t fault Satcom Direct Support,” says Arter. “The team is always helpful and at the end of the phone when needed. We recently had a preflight issue with the router; following a 4:00am WhatsApp call, it was remotely resolved within 15 minutes and we were able to take off as planned. It’s so reassuring to have this level of service around the clock. It gives us complete peace of mind.”
For African operators like BAR Aviation, the customizable options, the affordable technology, and the immediacy of customer support are priceless, and our exciting new connectivity toolbox is empowering. The latest technology enables much more than just communications; it allows powerful management of almost every aspect of flight to enhance maintenance, improve onboard experience, and retain asset value.
To find out more about the Satcom Direct offering in Africa, meet us at Aviation Africa 13 & 14th September or contact Will Jones at +971.54.7924573