Gogo CEO Michael Small was on recently a panel with Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of A3, the innovation group from Airbus based in Silicon Valley at the 2017 Economist Innovation Summit in Chicago. The panel focused on the flight of the future. The panel description was:
What will commercial plane travel be like in 10 years time? Will a flying car be the solution to rush hour? Will there be an uber for airplanes? Should we expect a network of self-driving flying taxis? Will technologies such as the hyperloop fundamentally change how we use flying? Will the space race dramatically reduce long distance flying times? And how soon will these changes really start to make a difference?
Rodin opened by discussing what the holdup is for flying cars (which we really all want!), and explained how it can be a technology and regulation problem. Rodin explained how Airbus is facilitating helicopter taxis in Brazil.
Below is part of the discussion from our CEO on bringing the Internet of Things to aviation, and how we are moving back to a B2B model:
The main reason most of the concepts you’ve talked don’t apply in the sky because there was no connectivity. We’ve solved at a basic level, we are now fixing with faster service. One of the things we’ve learned in the past few years, is that it’s the airlines plane and they want to control it. We have moved to a B2B model in part because it’s their passenger. They also see a future where they can connect their planes so they get information. It’s an interesting environment, I think the last thing you want to hear from a pilot before takeoff is that he likes to fail fast. It’s a controlled and tolerant environment. They want from us not only high bandwidth which we are bringing with our new product ( ed note: 2Ku), but they want a rock solid platform that meets all the regulations of the industry. You allow us to collect information and it becomes safe to use the internet.
You crowdsource turbulence information where every plane automatically reports it, and you map it and send it back to the pilot. We think you can virtually eliminate turbulence from flights when you actually map it out. We’ve heard all day about the value of data and real-time. We couldn’t even get back the data on where the plane was. You could lose a plane but you can’t lose your iPhone. Everybody wants sensors on everything on the plane. Maintenance costs on planes are extraordinarily high because they must be done on an interval basis. You can’t really measure the condition of the components. As soon as you start to know the condition of the components in real time, suddenly you’re saving billions of dollars in maintenance costs. It is actually a connectivity desert on the plane and it’s hard to find anything else any other industry.
We got to 3 Mbps when we launched in 2008. We then got it to 10 Mbps (ed note: with our ATG4 technology) But you’re basically running a wireless data center in the sky for 100 passengers plus all the planes components, 10 Mbps wasn’t good enough, our new service that is deployed in over 130 planes and has 1500 in backlog takes us to over 100 Mbps. That will do the job for most situations. We are at an inflection point period of significant bandwidth constraint and now we are entering an era of bandwidth abundance.