Living in the Air Capital, we’re interested in all things aviation. Our first love was the cloud-skimming, aerodynamic aircraft themselves. Our appreciation has continually expanded and deepened as we learn more about their complex systems, ongoing revolutionary marvels and impact to business overall. Those are on full display this week, March 26-29, at the 61st-annual Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) Convention at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

The show, dedicated to the general aviation avionics industry, is considered a must-attend event for its target markets. It opened Monday with welcomes, awards – and its eagerly anticipated, marathon session of New Product Introductions (NPIs). Aero-News Network CEO and Editor-in-Chief Jim Campbell memorably summed up the session: “Basically, it’s where all the cool stuff happens.”

Transformative Technologies Open the Show

A rapt audience of 1,500-2,000 people representing general aviation media, avionics manufacturers, distributors and government-certified repair stations seemed more than pleased with the unveiled products and services from nearly 40 companies. Newsmaking new products included everything from autopilots, autothrottles, altitude digitizers, Bluetooth-controlled cabin niceties and game-changing inflight connectivity.

Our client SmartSky Networks was among the presenters. VP Business Aviation Alan Goodnight had the honor of introducing the first 4G LTE-based connectivity for light-jet and turboprop aircraft – a market segment previously dogged by extremely slow inflight internet. The new product, SmartSky LiTE™, delivers blazing-fast internet throughout the aircraft. This means connectivity for the flight deck and aircraft systems, as well as the cabin. Post-presentation comments seized upon the pilot benefits afforded by SmartSky LiTE™ customers’ access to such Skytelligence™-powered applications as fuel management, flight planning and weather monitoring. Keeping the family entertained in the cabin – streaming a live sporting event or movie, shopping online or even video chatting with friends back home – created buzz, too.

The demand for connectivity doesn’t diminish if you’re flying a Cessna Citation CJ4 instead of a Bombardier Global Express. Depending on your mission, you may require an aircraft that flies farther, holds more people or has lower operating costs – but the need for fast, reliable, inflight Wi-Fi remains unchanged.

See the New Product Introductions Yourself

Aero-News Network streamed the four-minute NPIs live. If you missed the livestreams, you can view the archived video reformatted into convenient, short features on AEA’s YouTube channel: Thank you, AEA.

The Aircraft Electronics Association’s headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri (a suburb of Kansas City) gives it a central location from which to represent its nearly 1,300 member companies in 43 countries. Its 61-year history adds to the depth and quality of its offerings. From the convention buzz we’ve heard, AEA provides an invaluable platform for its members success. Hopefully for decades to come.

This column originally appeared in the March 28, 2018, issue of BlueSky News.