Send Solutions’s Airtext unit is working with Wichita-based 3S Engineering to create a broad approved model list (AML) for installation of the Airtext SMS messaging system on a range of Part 23 and Part 25 aircraft.
In a first step toward that goal, Airtext and Sierra Nevada’s 3S subsidiary reached an agreement to transfer an initial Airtext supplemental type certificate for the SMS messaging system on the Cessna Citation X. The agreement, the companies said, “creates a temporary arrangement that facilitates the companies’ collaborative effort to simplify the installation and approval of the system on numerous models of aircraft.”
Introduced in 2014, Airtext is designed as a lightweight (1.2 pounds), low-cost satcom system that enables up to 16 users to send and receive messages simultaneously. The system connects iOS and Android personal devices via the Iridium satellite network globally.
“The use of personal devices has changed the way we communicate on a routine basis,” said David Gray, CEO of Send Solutions. “But until recently the efficiency and convenience they provide didn’t apply to passengers and crewmembers on board aircraft…especially light jets and personally flown airplanes. That’s why we’ve developed Airtext and why we are collaborating with 3S Engineering to make ‘typical’ text messaging available and affordable.”
Initial plans call for obtaining a Part 23 AML STC, with a target of mid-August. “Once we’ve completed that process, we will expand it to encompass Part 25 aircraft as well,” said Randy Eno, general manager of 3S Engineering. “The end result will make Airtext an extremely practical and affordable option for operators of a broad list of aircraft—without the additional time and expense of obtaining a proprietary STC.” 3S is currently working with operators to monitor an installation on a Pilatus PC-12.
The system is priced at $9,750, not including the Iridium antenna, and Airtext offers an annual membership for $300 that includes 1,000 messages. Additional messages cost five cents each. Airtext also offers Airtext+, with a bigger modem, for $14,950. Voice calls are available through a prepaid Iridium sim card.
“We are incorporating a number of enhancements into our Airtext products, based on input from our customer base,” Gray said. “We will be announcing added capabilities soon.”