Viasat and Honeywell Aerospace have formed an expanded agreement in which Honeywell, as part of its GoDirect Cabin Connectivity suite of services, will offer Viasat’s high-speed Ka-band inflight internet service to large- and midsize cabin business jet customers.

The agreement is about service, with Honeywell as a value-added reseller. “Honeywell GoDirect is Viasat’s second value-added reseller; Satcom Direct initially signed on to sell Viasat’s Ka-band service in November 2017,” a spokesperson explains.

In addition to building its reseller channel, “Viasat has set out to partner with aircraft OEMs to offer its hardware directly as a line-fit factory option,” she continues. This is why Embraer Legacy 450 and 500 midsize business jets will be the first to offer Viasat's Ka-band connectivity as a line-fit option, without Honeywell being involved. Embraer will offer it on both models for entry into service in 2019.

At 16 Mbps per aircraft, Viasat's Ka-band service is proven to support more passengers and more devices simultaneously through all phases of flight when performing bandwidth-intensive applications, the company says. This includes accessing virtual private networks or streaming high-definition video calls, cloud content or live TV entertainment. By offering Viasat service, GoDirect promises its customers can conduct business or experience entertainment at 40,000 ft. as they do on the ground.

Viasat’s service will also use its most robust business-class shipset, the Global Aero Terminal 5510. The company promises its hardware is future-proof. “Every few years, you have to double capacity to keep pace with where the internet goes,” says Jerry Goodwin, executive vice president, network services portfolio. The terminal is thus “forward-compatible” with the ViaSat-3 constellation of satellites. They are planned to enter into service gradually from 2020, doubling the 16 Mbps speed.

The first flight in business aviation to benefit from the current ViaSat-2 satellites is expected to take place in the next few months.

“Whether connecting for business or pleasure, we’re proving on more than 2,000 Viasat Ka-band-equipped [commercial] flights daily that internet speeds and performance can be comparable in the air and on the ground,” Goodwin says.

GoDirect will offer the Viasat Ka-band and dual-band service to new Viasat customers, as well as to their current Viasat Ku-band customers interested in migrating to or adding Viasat Ka-band service. Certified units of the Viasat Ka-band shipset will be available for several business jet airframes in the second half of 2018.

Viasat's sales team had been eagerly awaiting Ka-band availability for business aviation, as it has been in service on commercial aircraft first. Smaller antennas for business aircraft are ready to install. The company has now embarked on an effort to transition its customers to Ka-band, Goodwin says.