EMS Sky Connect’s new Forte: e-mail

NBAA Convention News » 2009
October 19, 2009, 4:45 PM

Has your smart phone become an indispensable means of instant communication? If so, EMS Sky Connect, a division of EMS Technologies (Booth No. 4489), has the Christmas gift for you: unfettered in-flight access, “pole-to-pole, anywhere on the globe.”

Sky Connect calls the service Forte AirMail and announced its launch yesterday here at NBAA. The system uses the Iridium network to prove e-mail access to any WiFi-enabled smart phone or PDA. “We tested every device we could find and everything we tested worked, as many as ten devices simultaneously, and every person was getting e-mail in less than a minute,” said Sky Connect general manager Steve Silverman.

Forte AirMail rides the back of the Iridium satellite network, providing worldwide connectivity, improving the in-flight potential of smart phones. “The passenger can walk from the ramp into the airplane, turn on the WiFi and nothing changes,” said Silverman.

The default mode monitors the connected WiFi devices and opens the connection when an e-mail action is detected. The connection remains active until it is manually disconnected or a pre-set time-out has occurred. Once the connection has been disabled, it remains off for a minimum pre-set interval, and the connection may be re-established as needed. Automated and manual modes allow the operator and user to control air-time use and therefore manage costs.

Sky Connect expects to have an amended supplemental type certificate before the end of the year and plans to ship  kits in the first quarter of next year.

The full kit consists of three pieces– WiFi interface, Iridium transceiver and antenna–and is priced at $25,995. The full kit, ready to install, weighs slightly less than eight pounds and can be installed in aircraft as small as a piston single-engine machine.

Forte AirMail is designed specifically to support the e-mail capabilities of handheld WiFi-enabled smart phones, which are designed to use cellular data networks efficiently. Laptop operating systems cannot be efficiently supported by Forte AirMail. It is possible to access the Internet through the system, but users might not enjoy the slower transmission time of graphics-heavy pages.

“The ability to stay connected is integral to doing business, and the Forte AirMail capability gives you the option to maintain e-mail capability in the air,” said Wiley Loughran, EMS Sky Connect senior v-p of sales and marketing.

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