SmartSky launches new end to end inflight data security system

Flightdeck of Airbus A330.
Ercan Karakas - SpotTR (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

SmartSky Networks has launched the SmartSky Private Intranet (PI) which will enable improved in-flight data security by routing data securely from the aircraft to its ground network.

How the system works

The PI is deployed using an aircraft interface device (AID) and routes data traffic privately to and from the aircraft utilizing SmartSky’s next generation network.

It employs a patented beamforming technology that assigns a separate connection to each aircraft without the bandwidth sharing which is found on other airborne networks.

Once the data traffic reaches the SmartSky ground network, it is securely routed through one of the company’s three private data centers directly to the customer’s corporate enterprise network.

Security and customized routing

The air to ground routing aircraft effectively gives owners and operators the option for their inflight data traffic to completely bypass the internet and to determine how and when it is routed externally.

The customer’s data traffic is moved according to their specifications. SmartSky PI enables the aircraft to function as a true node on the customer’s corporate enterprise network instead of as an exception. 

This combination of a secured IFC network, AID and direct custom routing of data traffic to a corporate network represents the first-ever, end-to-end private inflight Wi-Fi connection.


This makes a VPN unnecessary when using the airborne network and secures not only the transfer of data to and from the cabin, but also all other aircraft data transferred while in flight. 

The PI service enables aviation customers with SmartSky equipped aircraft to add a new level of security to their inflight data beyond the cabin Wi-Fi, now including electronic flight bags (EFB) and aircraft health monitoring.

Transfer of operational data

Accessing 60 MHz of spectrum in the unlicensed band, the SmartSky inflight connectivity network utilizes 20 times the bandwidth of legacy ATG systems.

This means plenty of capacity and sustained performance for aircraft operations as well as real-time transfer of critical maintenance and performance data.

This means the cockpit can now be more responsive to changes in flight conditions, improving safety and flight efficiency.

Vital flight data can be offloaded inflight to allow ground crews to be prepared for maintenance needs upon landing, reducing AOG time. 

“SmartSky PI is enabling the connected aircraft, today,” said Sean Reilly Vice President for Digital Solutions and Air Transport.

“The capability for Private Internet showcases several dimensions of the way SmartSky is changing inflight connectivity beyond the cabin, enabling new levels of privacy, security, and performance for the entire aircraft and the industry.”

“It gives an organization’s IT department complete oversight and control of inflight data transmissions of users onboard, greatly enhancing information security and data sovereignty versus what is available with legacy ATG and satellite systems in use today.”

Mr Reilly pointed to the growing considerations of hacking and cyber threats which he notes are becoming more sophisticated and complex.

“SmartSky’s Private Intranet helps aircraft operators to have confidence that their inflight communications and data are secured, simplifying compliance with Aircraft Network Security Programs,” Reilly states.

“Skytelligence helps us move the right data to the right place at the right time with a secure connection, whether that’s data from the aircraft with an AID, data from FAA SWIM, or data from any of our partners.” 

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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