‘A game changer’

Three key conclusions emerged from CJI’s annual connectivity survey conducted in partnership with Inmarsat. Words: Yves Le Marquand


‘A game changer’

Three key conclusions emerged from CJI’s annual connectivity survey conducted in partnership with Inmarsat. Words: Yves Le Marquand

THE REFEREE IS a critical part of any sports fixture. If they have done their job well no one mentions the ref after the game. There’s a strong parallel with business aviation, according to Raymundo Villar, Inmarsat’s director of Market Development, Aviation. He sees the referee in a sports game like the connectivity on an aircraft.

Villar tells CJI: “You have the referee who is an instrumental part of that game, but the less you hear about that referee the better they have performed. Now with connectivity on an aircraft, you want to deliver so that everybody knows that you are doing your job and let the rest of the flight perform as you expect,” he says.

He believes the demand for added functionality from the “referee” or connectivity in business jets is going to grow significantly. One of three key conclusions of the research is the predicted growth in online activities over the next five years, with which 90% of respondents agreed. Another is that eight out of 10 respondents believe demand for business aviation will continue to rise over the next year.

Finally, ensuring your aircraft have the most up-to-date connectivity systems can help to preserve your asset value. Inmarsat believes that data demand will not level off post-pandemic, but will continue to increase, meaning onboard systems must have sufficient capacity.

As reliance on connectivity-based technology grows, from streaming sports to Zoom meetings, passengers expect consistency, according to Villar. “Whether they pick the aircraft up in Los Angeles or Paris, they expect the same service when arriving onboard and that also translates to connectivity. And this will be demanded of charter companies. So, charter companies are investing a lot of money to ensure they provide that capability,” he says.

“Whether they pick the aircraft up in LA or Paris, they expect the same service…”

Connectivity Survey: Key findings

Expect more flights

Predict these will be over smaller ranges

Expect trend towards increased ranges

Believe health and safety will be top priority over next year

Expect biggest demand over the next year will come from charter

Predict online activities will grow onboard in the next year.

Inmarsat will continue to improve its global network for business aviation users. “When someone jumps on a business jet they don’t need to worry about what connectivity system they have or whether it works. They just need the system to work. And the more transparently that system works, the more we’ve done our job.”

If there had been no pandemic, Villar believes that connectivity would be the key priority for respondents. “Before the pandemic, we have seen how connectivity is encroaching on the top priority list. This is not only in business aviation, but in commercial too. Wi-Fi onboard, is one of the three main considerations right now, besides the price and schedule.”

Raymundo Villar: Onboard Wi-Fi is one of three main considerations.

Another stand out for Villar is the percentage who thinks business aviation is going to continue to grow over the coming year. Although eight in 10 respondents believe more private flights will be taken, opinion is more divided when it comes to what we might expect regarding the range. More than half (51%) believe flight ranges will decrease and 28% think we will see a trend towards increased ranges.

“Inmarsat is well entrenched into what the industry is doing right now,” says Villar. “There has been a little bit of volatility coming out the pandemic, but nothing unexpected. We see clear visibility, for instance, in terms of what kind of aircraft are being purchased, flight patterns etc.”

Continuing the trend from a previous survey undertaken by CJI and Inmarsat, 54% of respondents believe charter will drive demand over the next 12 months.

Gold standard connectivity is helpful when it comes to preserving the value of your aircraft, according to Inmarsat. The firm’s head of Business Aviation, Kai Tang says: “We don't expect, and I don't think anyone does, that as we continue to see a relaxing of restrictions across the world, this won't just get back to its pre-pandemic levels and stay there. It will continue to rise at the rate that we were seeing before that.”

When it comes to preparing for the future, Tang says: “An inflight connectivity system is an important investment on the aircraft. It’s too important to compromise on quality or experience. A future-proofed solution preserves the value of the aircraft.”

Survey respondents shared views from across the industry. They highlighted the sector’s resilience to the pandemic, belief that growth is set to continue (at least in the near term) and that a reliance on connectivity will grow in unison. One point remains clear, business aviation is constantly evolving and ensuring an aircraft's connectivity system is up-to-date should mean you’re never blaming the ref.

CJI Connect

Conor McDougall Garmin [email protected]

Greg Principato National Aeronautic Association, President and CEO [email protected]

Yves Le Marquand, Reporter, Corporate Jet Investor