When it comes to adding inflight Wi-Fi for light jet and turboprop aircraft, most owner/operators cost is the biggest roadblock to overcome.
Everyone understands the appeal of having Wi-Fi on a small aircraft for both crew and passengers. Pilots gain access to a variety of apps to help them navigate and operate more safely and efficiently in real time, from weather to flight paths, while passengers get to work and play as if they were on the ground.
Because light jets typically fly shorter distances and haul fewer people, the need for connectivity may not be as great as it is for those who are on longer flights or on heavier iron where more people are on board. As a result, Wi-Fi often gets stuck in the “nice to have” category.
Both are common assumptions, but aren’t always accurate. For many light jet owners and operators, the opportunity cost of NOT adding inflight connectivity outweighs the cost of the system itself.
Quantifying the value of productivity
Tracy Forrest, CJ3+ pilot and owner and a current board member of the Citation Jet Pilots (CJP) Association, recently experienced this decision-making process firsthand. As he explained in our success story: “I’d always coveted the Gogo ATG systems because it offered broadband connectivity that was much improved compared to the satellite systems I’d been using, but cost held me back.”
Forrest was not alone in his perception of inflight Wi-Fi as too expensive. Recent research from Cascade Insights indicates that the three biggest barriers to adding onboard connectivity relate to cost; participants worried about the ongoing cost for service, the upfront cost of equipment and installation costs. However, after doing some research, Forrest found that many of his concerns were unfounded.
I eventually realized that the level of productivity I could achieve with a Gogo ATG system outweighed the initial costs… [and] the price to install the system wasn’t as costly as I thought.
3 factors to consider when balancing opportunity and cost
What changed Tracy’s mind? Three main factors contributed to his decision to outfit his light jet with a Gogo ATG system:
Balancing benefits vs. cost. When Forrest analyzed the potential benefits to both himself as the pilot and his passengers, the benefits outweighed the price of the service and system. “Depending on my needs, I use online services to adjust or change flight plans or coordinate and change hotels or rental cars where I travel,” he said. Passengers… can use the service and get as much work done as possible while in route somewhere.”
Researching installment options. When Forrest approached Executive Aircraft Maintenance (EAM), an aftermarket facility he’d worked with in the past, he found that installation costs were much lower than he anticipated. “EAM was a shop I trusted,” he said. “And they had experience installing these systems at a competitive price point.”
Comparing pricing plans. Like the installation of onboard Wi-Fi, ongoing service is frequently more affordable than light jet owners and operators expect. At Gogo, we offer plans specifically tailored to light jet and turboprop aircraft and organizations with predictable hourly rates and the same high levels of reliability and performance.
When he considered these three factors, Forrest decided that the value of staying connected in flight outweighed the cost of the service and system. His advice for fellow light jet owner/operators? “Consider the cost of your time versus the cost of the service. Don’t let the perception of cost limit [you]. I know from experience that there are other ways to make installing and using the inflight Wi-Fi system more affordable and palatable to light jet owners.”