Connected Aircraft Market size could expand at a significant pace over 2021-2027, on account of the gradual increase in the rate of air departures, alongside the robust focus on accelerating in-flight connectivity worldwide. For example, Delta entered a partnership with a high-speed Wi-Fi service provider Viasat in 2021 to offer a seamless, personalized in-flight experience for customers to stay connected during travel.
Connected aircraft is a concept that has been developed to manage a global wireless network incorporating high bandwidth in the sky to serve a broad range of end-users and applications. In order to access an internet connection, an individual aircraft must be connected to the transmission source through a satellite when it travels over water or regions with poor connectivity, or through a radio tower when it travels over land areas with favorable cellular service.
Rapid advancements in technology and subsequent rise in satellite communications capabilities are among the key trends characterizing the overall market outlook during the forecast timeframe. The usage of big data, virtual reality, IoT, and other technologies has enabled airlines to cater to the needs of smart travelers by offering innovative solutions. They help travelers make informed decisions while offering a connected and immersive experience during the journey, thus increasing the popularity of connected aircraft enterprises across the globe.
On the basis of application, the military segment is projected to emerge as a lucrative revenue prospect for the industry by 2027, as a result of the mounting adoption of connected aircraft solutions in military aviation and the rapid modernization of this aircraft fleet. In 2020, Raytheon Intelligence & Space received a $13.1 million contract for a Research Laboratory program of the U.S. Air Force to connect military jets to the emerging commercial satellite internet constellations in LEO (Low-Earth Orbit).
On the regional front, the North America connected aircraft market will depict a high growth rate through 2027, driven by the rapid technological innovation, coupled with the high emphasis of the aerospace companies on expanding the internet connectivity in a range of aircraft. For example, in November 2020, SpaceX applied for FCC approval to boost the testing of its Starlink internet on 5 Gulfstream jets, both on-ground and in-flight over the U.S.
The global market is bolstered by the presence of prominent companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Spafax, Google, IBM, Cobham Limited, Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., Gogo Inc., Inmarsat (Connect Bidco Limited), Kontron AG (S&T), Thales Group, SITAONAIR, Panasonic Corporation, and Honeywell International, Inc., among others. These key players are implementing varied strategies like M&A and business expansion to hold a commendable share in the global market.
For instance, Intelsat acquired Gogo’s Commercial Aviation business in December 2020 to form a vertically integrated IFC (In-Flight Connectivity) entity, as well as bring broadband service to 9 global airlines and an installed base of above 3,000 commercial aircraft. Meanwhile, in October 2020, Cathay Pacific Airways selected Deutsche Telekom to support the development of its future Wi-Fi portal across its connected aircraft fleet to deliver a harmonized passenger experience.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the air transport sector and the overall airline passenger experiences. During the Q2 of 2020, the air passenger traffic witnessed a drop by 90% globally, due to low point of flight activity and air travel restrictions to limit the virus spread. These factors, in turn, created significant roadblocks to the growth of the industry.
However, passenger demand is making a steady return in recent months, with airlines introducing a new set of COVID measures. They are enhancing inflight services, publishing key content through passenger Wi-Fi portals, and offering digital services to meet the changing safety measures. These aforementioned factors, alongside the gradual ease of coronavirus restrictions, may help promote higher acceptance of the connected aircraft concept over the coming years.