SmartSky completes STC for Cessna Citation X business jets
Inflight connectivity provider SmartSky Networks has received a supplemental type certificate (STC) for its hardware on the Cessna Citation X-series business aircraft.
The Citation X series, with more than 300 aircraft in operation, joins a growing list of aircraft types that have already been granted STCs for SmartSky’s patented Air-To-Ground (ATG) connectivity. The already-awarded STCs include aircraft from major OEMs such as Textron Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace, Bombardier and Embraer, with additional STCs in progress.
The company claims that its connectivity is more secure than other providers’ service due to each aircraft being assigned a unique connection to the network, rather than sharing the same connection with multiple aircraft across a broad area.
Operator FlyExclusive installed the hardware to the Citation X aircraft at its Kinston, North Carolina facility in June for its inaugural flight with the technology, ahead of the FAA STC being issued this month. In July, SmartSky announced that its ATG connectivity was available nationwide across the US.
“We aim to make high-performance, reliable inflight connectivity available for everyone in business aviation,” said Dave Helfgott, CEO, SmartSky Networks. “This successful certification with a key customer is an important step towards achieving that goal.”
SmartSky and Gogo Business Aviation have been involved in disputes over patents in the last two years. In April 2020, connectivity rival Gogo Business Aviation submitted a petition to the US Patent and Trademark Office, believing that SmartSky’s patent was not valid. SmartSky successfully defended its inflight connectivity patents in court that September, and has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Gogo in February this year.
Britton Wanick, vice president, Marketing & Partnerships at SmartSky Networks told CJI: “In 2020, Gogo filed an IPR against one of SmartSky’s granted patents. The US Patent Office summarily denied Gogo’s challenge on both procedural and substantive grounds and Gogo failed to appeal its loss. Separately, in 2022, SmartSky filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Gogo in the US Federal Court in Delaware. SmartSky alleges that Gogo is infringing four of Smartsky’s patents. SmartSky also filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction to have the court order Gogo to immediately stop marketing ATG services which infringe SmartSky’s patents while the litigation is pending and before it goes to trial.
“Discovery relating to the Preliminary Injunction motion has been completed and SmartSky is awaiting a hearing on the PI motion. We anticipate that the hearing will take place in the coming month or so. Gogo is seeking to have SmartSky’s lawsuit dismissed and SmartSky filed in opposition.”
This week, Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) spoke to SmartSky’s president Ryan Stone about the company’s turbulence service SmoothSky.