For most companies, the question that might come to mind when considering whether or not to invest in a flying laboratory is, “Why would we do that?”
At Gogo, the question was instead, “How could we not do that?”
“When you’re creating a service for an aircraft going hundreds of miles per hour at 30,000 feet in the air, it’s hard to test it from the ground,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s executive vice president and chief technology officer.
That’s why the company has Gogo One, a dedicated aircraft that is one part laboratory, one part showroom. When Gogo has a new product in development, such as their next generation Air to Ground (ATG-4) technology or proprietary hybrid Ground to Orbit (GTO) technology, engineers will take it to the skies themselves for hours of testing and tweaking. What better way could there be to build services and technologies meant for the skies than being right up there amongst the clouds?
Gogo One’s gig as a showroom comes into play when a product is ready to roll out to the public. Rather than just tell potential clients and guests about what it can do, Gogo takes them up for a test drive. When it came to the ATG-4 service, Gogo One played host to members of the media as they tested the three-times-faster Wi-Fi service for themselves. Gogo engineers on board were actually able to switch the guests from ATG service to ATG-4 during the flight to allow them to really experience the dramatic difference.
“If you show someone your Wi-Fi on the ground, it doesn’t seem like a big deal,” Chari said. “We have such a unique business that it’s hard to really show somebody unless you’re up in the air.”
When it’s not wowing guests or testing new technology, Gogo One lives in a small airport in Aurora, Ill. The plane, which seats 12, has a dedicated pilot and maintenance team. It’s a big job for a small plane, being both a mobile testing ground and a sky-high showroom, but Gogo One has proven time and again to be up to the task. What will Gogo’s own jet with a job be developing or showcasing next? Only another fly around the well-connected skies will tell.
— Written by Natalie Burg