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AeroMech Inc. Issues STC for Starlink, AMI Aviation Demos King Air Starlink


AeroMech Inc. Issues STC for Starlink, AMI Aviation Demos King Air Starlink

Check out exciting news for AeroMech Incorporated and AMI Aviation Services.

On March 18, AeroMech Incorporated announced that it issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the installation of Starlink high speed internet connectivity in King Air 200/300 series aircraft. The STC was approved by the AeroMech FAA SSTC ODA, and it includes 17 King Air model variants ranging from the King Air 200 to the King Air 360s. AeroMech's wholly owned subsidiary, AMI Aviation Services, will conduct Starlink installations for end users at its facilities in Orlando/Sanford (KSFB) and Nashville/Smyrna (KMQY) or via remote "go teams." AeroMech/AMI will also provide the STC and PMA installation kits to any qualified Starlink installer and/or dealer. 

After completing the first King Air 200/300 supplemental type certificate (STC) for installation of SpaceX’s Starlink satcom, AMI Aviation Services brought its customer’s Starlink-equipped King Air 200 to Fort Worth, Texas, for flight demonstrations of the system during the Aircraft Electronics Association Convention. Aviation International News (AIN) was invited on one of the demo flights, which took place at Perot Field/Fort Worth Alliance Airport last Tuesday, March 19.

One of the benefits of satcom is that it is available on the ground as soon as the system is switched on. The Starlink service came alive shortly after the pilots started the King Air’s engines, and AIN writer, Matt Thurber, along with five other passengers, logged on and began consuming Starlink bandwidth.

During the flight, Thurber said, "I made a video call using Facebook’s Messenger app on my phone, then ran a Facebook video while testing our company content management system on my laptop. All worked the same as if I was in my office on the ground, although the Messenger call did have audio that sounded like the caller on the other end was in a pipe."

"With the six passengers all using multiple devices, along with the pilots using electronic flight bags, the post-flight results showed our flight experienced peak download speeds of more than 300 Mbps and uploads up to 35 Mbps. A three-minute average measurement showed 150 Mbps downloads. For other portions of the flight, downloads ran 10 to 30 Mbps and uploads 5 to 10 Mbps. I ran some speed tests on short final and during the landing and one showed 7.93 Mbps download and 3.7 Mbps upload, while another just a minute later jumped to 135.2 Mbps download and 8.73 Mbps upload. Latency is published as less than 90 milliseconds but during the demo flight averaged 26 milliseconds," said Thurber.

On the King Air 200, the electronically steered antenna (ESA) is mounted on top of the fuselage, about one window before the door opening. The King Air offers a lot of flexibility on the antenna location, which can be mounted aft as it is on this model 200 or further forward near the cockpit, depending on the customer’s needs and the configuration of their airplane’s upper fuselage. This avoids having to move other antennas to make space for the ESA.

The Starlink installation weighs about 48 pounds and includes the ESA, a Starlink router, and a power supply. Retail price is $150,000, and customers can order the system directly from dealers such as AMI, Duncan Aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation, Pro Star Aviation, Banyan Aviation, and soon many others. Although SpaceX initially took orders directly online when it announced Starlink for aviation last year, the company has since set up the dealer network. STCs have been developed by AMI for the King Air 200/300 and Nextant Aerospace for a number of business jet models. While dealers could go to the trouble of developing their own STCs, those already approved are available for purchase from AMI and Nextant.

The King Air installation process takes about a week, taking into consideration the structural work involved in the installation of the ESA and removal of interior components for placement of the router, power supply, and wiring. The Starlink router is optional, and buyers can work with dealers to retain their original router or to use a router of their choice. However, the Starlink router provides deeper system access for troubleshooting by SpaceX technicians.

While dealers are installing Starlink systems, SpaceX is providing product support and has set up a team to support business aviation customers. A Starlink app allows customers to do initial diagnosis. For further support, customers will first use an online ticketing system to send a report to the Starlink team, which promises to respond quickly. An 800 number will also be provided for AOG situations. For the most challenging problems, the AOG team can enlist the aid of Starlink engineers.

Starlink low-earth-orbit satcom is end-to-end encrypted, including satellite-to-satellite laser links. Customers can use their own VPN for further secure operation. There are more than 5,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, with more being added, and coverage is global.

All Starlink service is provided by SpaceX, and there are no independent service providers. Two month-to-month plans are available: global 20 GB for $2,000 per month (plus $100/GB additional) and global unlimited for $10,000 per month. This is much lower than the original Starlink price of $25,000 per month announced last year and was lowered to be more competitive, a Starlink spokesman told AIN.

“When Starlink first approached AeroMech to assist with certifying Starlink on aircraft, we recognized this was a disruptive innovation in aviation,” said Anthony Wiederkehr, AeroMech’s COO. “We are proud to have the King Air as the first model we certified. With the diverse applications in which King Air aircraft are used, we are excited to see how operators worldwide will utilize Starlink’s groundbreaking capability."

Interested aircraft operators, owners, and industry stakeholders wanting to explore the benefits of Starlink Connectivity in King Air model aircraft should contact AeroMech at starlinksales@aeromechinc.com or visit aeromechinc.com.

AeroMech, Inc. is a Gold Sponsor for the 2024 King Air Gathering, where a demonstration of the Starlink system is planned. Visit https://kingairnation.com/gathering-2024 for more details!

See the original articles herehttps://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-a... and https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240318375...

Cover Image: Business Wire