Connectivity and Cockpit Upgrades – What’s Right for You?
by Western Aircraft Avionics Sales Manager Beau Hawkins
If you’ve been tossing around the idea of adding connectivity to your Citation or upgrading your cockpit, now might be the time to seriously think about it. Aircraft equipped with modern connectivity and cockpit systems have higher hull values, offer more utility, and will sell more quickly when that day comes.
These days you can’t charter your plane without onboard Wi-Fi because your passengers expect that they will be able to stay connected in the air. In some cases, charter companies are not even allowing aircraft onto their certificate without a connectivity system. So how do you choose what connectivity system is right for you?
There are some things to think about when you reach out to an MRO for a quote. First, what kind of connectivity do you need? Are you looking for a system that provides simple text/talk capabilities? Or do you want to have cabin entertainment included, such as the ability to select from a library of movies and shows? Will you use the system for weather and flight planning?
Secondly, think about your typical flight mission. If you want to be able to use the system on the ground and in the air; how many people are typically traveling in the aircraft? Do you require international service, or will domestic service suffice?
Lastly, give some thought to your budget, both for the installation and for the service itself. Would you rather have a fixed monthly subscription, or pay only as you use the service?
Devoting some thought to these questions will help your avionics shop better understand your needs and make recommendations that will best fulfill your requirements.
For instance, there are reliable connectivity solutions such as Airtext that are not full-blown internet connectivity, but they can provide you with onboard email, phone calls, and messaging. It also has packages that increases the cabin experience with interactive moving maps, custom logos, briefings, and flight data should you want it, with minimum downtime.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Gogo AVANCE L3, which is really the epitome of connectivity solutions for Citation aircraft. This technology platform is cost-effective, customizable and provides added value for the price if you are looking for a system for maximizing productivity. It is the best solution if you want the fastest and broadest connection speeds, or if you are considering chartering your aircraft.
Considering a cockpit upgrade? Cockpit upgrades are a very personal choice depending on the kinds of flying you are doing today or might be in the future.
Again, as you think about making a significant upgrade to your aircraft, you’ll want to consider a few things: First, what is your basic reason for upgrading? Have you been grounded due to avionics reliability issues? Are you trying to enhance the safety and functionality of your airplane? Or are you trying to reduce operating costs? Think also about a budget for this upgrade, as there is a wide range of price options.
There are some great systems available today for Citation owners and operators. For instance, the Collins Pro Line Fusion system solves some obsolescence issues with a modern new cockpit, and it is an easy upgrade if you currently have Pro Line 21. Likewise, there are several Garmin solutions available for Citation aircraft, and these can be installed according to a wide range of equipment and budget options. Garmin product also offers the flexibility to upgrade in phases, according to your budget and timing for making improvements.
Older avionics systems are not only facing obsolescence, but they are becoming increasingly expensive and complex to maintain. Modernizing your cockpit ensures that you can meet global compliance requirements, and enhances reliability, situational awareness, and ongoing product support. New avionics can also bring an extra level of satisfaction to your flying experience, as you experience the joy of operating new, sophisticated systems. A refreshed cockpit can give you that “new airplane feel” for a fraction of the cost!
When it comes to connectivity systems and cockpit upgrades, there are a wide variety of products to consider. Find a reputable avionics shop, and an avionics salesperson that you trust, to help guide you through the process of selecting the best products for your needs.
To learn more about Western Aircraft, visit westair.com