A satellite communications system that can be installed on the 737 MAX at a fraction of the cost of the Boeing option is creating a buzz in the aviation industry, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
US-based avionics manufacturer Avionica has received a supplemental type certificate (STC) for its satLINK MAX Iridium satellite communications system for the 737 MAX aircraft model, joining a long list of STCs they’ve earned. The system costs less than half the price of the option that Boeing offers, says Anthony Rios, vice president of Sales at Avionica.
“What we bring to the table is an option that is cost effective as well as efficient.” “It is 30 to 40 percent of the cost of what is available in the Boeing catalogue,” says Rios. “Equipping with satLINK MAX can provide major savings for an airline that has unique flight operational data acquisition needs.”
The satLINK MAX, which was developed in parallel with the 737 MAX, can provide two flight deck air traffic service (ATS) safety voice channels on the aircraft model. A third additional channel can provide aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) FANS-1/A(+) capability while a fourth channel can be used for cabin communications or dedicated datalinks.
Its price is just one of the many advantages the system has over the competition, says Rios. “satLINK MAX is a great fit for 737 MAX 8 and other commercial aircraft because of the size, weight and functionality of the system. We are very confident about the product.”
“Earning this STC on the new generation 737 MAX is a great accomplishment for Avionica,” says Raul Segredo, Avionica President and one of the two co-founders of the company. “It’s another in the growing list of STCs that we’ve completed for our family of products.”
Its power enables satLINK MAX to provide Quick Access Recorder (QAR) and Aircraft Interface Device (AID) functions on an electronic flight bag (EFB,) as well as server capabilities to host applications, such as eTechlogs. The installation of the optional avWIFI enables seamless integration with portable electronic devices such as EFBs, smartphones and other wireless tablets, which can be used to connect to the secure system to utilize hosted applications on the server or to make voice calls through the Avionica satLINK mobile app.
Airlines are increasingly waking up to the advantages of satLINK MAX. Korean Air recently announced that it had selected the system for its fleet of 55 Boeing 737s. Installing the system will help the carrier comply with the new flight-tracking requirements that have been mandated by South Korea’s Office of Civil Aviation (KOCA) and will take effect this year. Installation has been completed on several aircraft; the carrier expects to complete fleet-wide installation by the end of 2018.
“Korean Air is expected to save significantly on its SATCOM operational cost with Iridium. “We know there are several solutions available for aircraft tracking with 15-minute or one-minute position reports as mandated by the KOCA starting next year, and our satLINK MAX is the most capable and cost effective of all the options,” says Segredo.
In addition to precise aircraft tracking, Korean Airlines will also add FANS and ATS Safety Voice communications to its B737 aircraft. This will help the carrier receive preferred flight routing as the North Pacific flight control centers increasingly adopt FANS flight management communications systems.
Another in the company’s growing list of customers is Icelandair. The carrier selected the satLINK MAX aviONS onboard network server that includes avCM 4G cellular device and quick access recorder (QAR) download equipment for the 16 737 Max that it has on order. “Selecting Avionica’s aviONS system over Boeing ONS will enable savings of about US$4 million in the next three years,” says Rios.
With much of the growth in the aviation industry happening in Asia Pacific, Avionica has been increasingly focusing on the region. Its products have been installed on a number of airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Eastar Jet and Jeju Air.
“We have more than 500 customers around the world,” says Rios. “We are growing in Asia. We are in talks right now with many carriers who have expressed interest in our products. We are excited by the potential of the market.”
The 60-employee strong company has sales offices in every region, including in Asia.