Bridging the Commercial Aircraft Connectivity Gap 2006-21-0037
Traditional in-flight entertainment systems have evolved from basic audio and video sources into true network-based information systems onboard commercial aircraft. As these systems improve speed, capacity, and bandwidth, connectivity with passenger devices is feasible and now being implemented, although only at a level of service local to the aircraft. Customer expectations have evolved as well, driving the need to interface with various laptop, PDA, and cellular devices.
What remains is for commercial aviation suppliers to bridge the connectivity gap between the aircraft and ground networks, so that broadband interface with the Internet can be realized. Significant technical challenges from both communications networks and aircraft engineering must be overcome. Compounding the existing stringent aircraft regulatory issues will be newly developed requirements from the FCC and foreign authorities. This paper will explore the technical, regulatory, and societal hurdles to be overcome in order to bridge the connectivity gap.