Performance Software has partnered with SmartSky to offer real-time, high precision digital mapping databases to the aviation community.

Performance Software and Smartsky join forces on high precision data

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Performance Software has partnered with SmartSky to offer real-time, high precision digital mapping databases to the aviation community.

Performance Software has partnered with SmartSky to offer real-time, high precision digital mapping databases to the aviation community.

Performance Software’s dynamic airport, helipad, and vertiport databases are now accessible on SmartSky Network’s unique data exchange service, Skytelligence.

“There is a growing demand for critical, real-time data in the aviation industry and most recently UAM and AAM. By utilising our continuously updated map data and the Skytelligence data exchange platform, our customers can quickly develop their navigation-related apps for use in airports and urban areas,” said Performance Software’s Head of Products, Michael Johnson.

Rich Pilock, SmartSky VP of Product noted: “The Performance Software data service is a bell-weather of the growing connected aircraft ecosystem and its ability to deliver improved safety, efficiency, and comfort. We anticipate this offering to be the first of many collaborations as more data providers and aerospace application developers connect through Skytelligence.”

Performance Software’s Airport Mapping Databases (AMDBs) are now available for download on Skytelligence where they can be integrated with other data such as Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS), through a common storefront that provides application developers with instant access to global data required to deliver real-time, critical advisory applications.

A developer recently used the AMDB data and Skytelligence to merge precision airport data with NOTAMs and localised weather data to produce timely alerts and enhance situational awareness for pilots and operators. This innovative service enables the delivery of information critical for safe departure, approach, and on-ground navigation of piloted and autonomous aircraft.

SmartSky Networks has appointed David Claassen to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer.

SmartSky appoints David Claassen as Chief Technology Officer

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SmartSky Networks has appointed David Claassen to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer.

SmartSky Networks has appointed David Claassen to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer. Claassen will direct SmartSky’s technology strategy and execution, including development and delivery of innovative technical solutions from its portfolio of patents, as the company moves forward to empower the growing connected aircraft market.

Classen was previously Vice President of Network and Service Architecture at SmartSky, leading the successful design, development and integration of many key aspects of the company’s core technical capabilities, including subscriber devices, Radio Access Network, IP core, cybersecurity, voice and data services, all which ultimately led to the deployment of the aviation industry’s first virtualized nationwide network architecture.

SmartSky is launching its advanced inflight connectivity service later this year. As part of its offering portfolio, the company is developing pioneering aviation data products through its open digital applications platform, Skytelligence, to improve safety and efficiency while providing the industry with novel ancillary revenue sources. SmartSky’s unique single-beam-per-aircraft in-flight communications approach is backed by more than 200 patents and over 1,000 hours of flight testing.

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SmartSky surpasses 200 patents

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SmartSky Networks aicraft

SmartSky Networks has confirmed it has surpassed 200 granted patents.

“SmartSky set out to transform aviation through innovations in communications technology and services,” said SmartSky CEO David Helfgott.  “Our expanding patent portfolio represents the latest advances in a host of sophisticated tech needed to deliver on the promise of the truly connected aircraft, from our cutting-edge radio and antenna hardware to our sophisticated next-generation network and new aviation-related digital services.”

SmartSky’s patents cover a breadth of areas crucial to providing office-grade in-flight communications and related services, including air-to-ground specific features of network architecture, operation in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band, beamforming, spectrum re-use, seamless handoff, and signal processing. In the digital services arena, patents cover topics including an aerospace commerce exchange (Skytelligence), uses of blockchain relevant to aviation, dynamic 5-dimensional aircraft trajectory management and more.

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SmartSky successfully closes funding round

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SmartSky Networks aicraft

SmartSky Networks has confirmed it has raised more than US$32 million in additional equity and debt funding, as it moves forward with plans to launch its next-generation aviation Wi-Fi connectivity service later this year.

“In a display of confidence in the future of SmartSky’s groundbreaking technology and services, we received new funds from our institutional investors,” said SmartSky CEO David Helfgott.

SmartSky’s office-grade in-flight Wi-Fi service for business and commercial aviation uses the company’s uniquely scalable, single-beam-per-aircraft approach. Through its Skytelligence digital innovation platform, the company aims to improve safety and efficiency while providing the industry with new ancillary revenue sources.

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WSS files counterclaim in SmartSky Networks court action

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SmartSky Networks aicraft

Wireless Systems Solutions (WSS) has filed counterclaims in the ongoing federal lawsuit with SmartSky Networks.

SmartSky initiated the complaint in September 2020, accusing WSS, its former radio contractor, of misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of a US$30 million contract related to air-to-ground (ATG) wireless network service, through the improper actions by WSS, two related entities (DAG Wireless LTD and DAG Wireless USA), and three of their senior leaders.

In a press release, WSS said “these counterclaims assert breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and fraudulent inducement. These claims are also being pursued in arbitration, which WSS believes is the appropriate venue.”

The statement also said that “WSS believes that SmartSky’s original claims were retaliatory in nature, in response to a lawsuit filed by WSS in North Carolina state court, and were designed as subterfuge to distract from its failure to perform under its obligations to WSS. WSS believes that such claims are without merit.”

David Helfgott, SmartSky CEO

SmartSky appoints David Helfgott CEO

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David Helfgott, SmartSky CEO

SmartSky Networks has named David Helfgott CEO, coinciding with the company’s transition from the development and deployment stage to an operational aviation broadband communications services and products company.

Commenting upon the appointment outgoing CEO Haynes Griffin, who will remain as Executive Chairman, said: “His extensive technology and mobile communications experience will help us ensure that all of our operations reflect the high level of quality set by our transformational connectivity technology.”

“I am honoured to be selected to lead SmartSky at this exciting inflection point,” said Helfgott. “When you look at SmartSky’s unique positioning and expansive patent portfolio, it highlights the company’s incredible potential and culture of sustained innovation. Since COVID-19 first began to impact the in-flight communications industry, SmartSky has proven its resilience in many ways, having added more than 40 patents since January 2020, successfully defended its IP from a challenge brought by an industry incumbent, closed on funding of more than US$50 million in additional equity and debt, and overhauled its radio technology supply chain on the way to completing the deployment and launch of its network next year.”

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UPDATED: USPTO dismisses Gogo’s patent challenge of SmartSky

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SmartSky Networks aicraft

As SmartSky Networks pursues further protection of its intellectual protection (IP) in the US courts, the company has announced the resolution of one such action.

According to a statement, SmartSky ‘has summarily defeated industry incumbent Gogo’s challenge brought before the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) nearly six months ago, proving SmartSky’s longstanding position that its ‘947 patent, which covers some of the most essential features of a 5G air-to-ground (ATG) network, like beamforming and seamless cell tower handoffs, was and shall remain valid.’

“Gogo has been proven unequivocally wrong in its challenge. We continue to believe they will have great difficulty commercialising their future 5G network without infringing on SmartSky’s expansive intellectual property portfolio,” said SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “Gogo has said many times in the past that our IP didn’t matter and wasn’t valid. The fact that Gogo bothered to challenge this patent clearly indicates that our IP does in fact matter. Moreover, the fact that the USPTO ruled in SmartSky’s favour based only on a subset of SmartSky’s opening arguments reinforces the strength of this patent since it was likely targeted due to a combination of its relevance and Gogo’s perception of their own likelihood of success. Furthermore, this ruling reaffirms the strength of SmartSky’s entire portfolio. Now everyone can know that Gogo’s assertions have been thoroughly debunked.”

“We understand that the importance of our portfolio may dictate further challenges, and we remain poised to defend both the portfolio and the intellectual property it protects,” added SmartSky President Ryan Stone.

In April 2020, Gogo challenged one (No. 9,312,947) of SmartSky’s now more than 180 patents supporting its in-deployment, next generation ATG network with 5G technologies. SmartSky had three months to respond, which it did, and the USPTO then had three months to determine whether Gogo’s challenge was worth further review.

“The market leader tried to undercut SmartSky, but justice has been served and the little guy has won this battle,” Stone said. “We are an innovation driven company and have developed key enabling technologies to transform connectivity in aviation. The USPTO ruling rightfully affirms the intellectual property protection SmartSky has earned on just one of the many patents we’ve developed critical to advancing in-flight connectivity.”

In response, Gogo issued the following comment:

“We disagree with the PTO’s decision not to review the 947 patent,” said Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation. “To be clear, Gogo reiterates our strong belief that we are not infringing any valid patent held by SmartSky. Furthermore, neither the PTO’s decision nor SmartSky’s patent portfolio in any way impairs our ability to continue to successfully expand, to launch Gogo 5G or to enhance our position in the business aviation market. Today, our systems are flying on more than 5,550 business jets, including more than 1,000 AVANCE L5 systems and nearly 450 L3 systems providing connectivity to business aircraft of all types and sizes.”

Aguirre continued, “We are committed to continuing to set the standard for in-flight connectivity in business aviation as we progress toward the launch of Gogo 5G and further enhance the scale and profitability of our Business Aviation segment.”

SmartSky Networks takes legal action to protect IP

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SmartSky Networks has filed a federal lawsuit through law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in North Carolina Middle District Court, against its former radio contractor, Wireless Systems Solutions LLC (WSS).

The complaint alleges that WSS, whose contract was terminated, misappropriated SmartSky’s intellectual property, and breached a US$30 million contract related to air-to-ground wireless network service, through the improper actions by WSS, two related entities (DAG Wireless LTD and DAG Wireless USA), and three of their senior leaders.

“We have pledged to defend our intellectual property vigorously because it is critical to our success. In this situation, WSS failed to complete what it was contracted to do for SmartSky. Simultaneously, we believe WSS attempted to sell our product as its own, including through an alter-ego company formed after we began working with WSS yet involving the same people,” said Ryan Stone, SmartSky President.

“This activity has caused a delay in SmartSky bringing our next-generation Wi-Fi network to the aviation market,” Stone said. “We’re transferring WSS’s former work scope to contractors who have performed well for us in the past on other aspects of our program.”

SmartSky now expects to launch its network in 2021.

SmartSky reaches patent milestone

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SmartSky Networks has received its 150th patent supporting the development of its advanced air-to-ground (ATG) network and data technologies. The company has more than 90 additional patents pending domestically and internationally.

“We are proud of our history of innovation, new thinking, disruption and creative approaches to solve technology issues in aviation, particularly as we near the commercial launch of our network in the second quarter of 2020,” said SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin.

SmartSky has several patent families covering network architecture and shared spectrum usage in North America and beyond, which enable an advanced ATG network to operate in harmony with terrestrial users of identical frequencies in the same geography. SmartSky’s development pipeline will deliver the high-performance network that passengers want and need aboard their business and commercial flights.

“Our patented single-beam-per-aircraft ATG network, which applies the concepts contained in many of our patents, will serve a long line of interested aircraft owners, operators and managers that have been demanding better technology and better passenger experiences,” said Ryan Stone, SmartSky President.

“Many of the inventors who facilitated SmartSky’s success with these 150 patents are the same leaders who will help grow both our ATG communications and Skytelligence digital services business lines for the company in the years to come,” added Stone.

SmartSky secures additional funding as it moves towards Q2 2020 launch

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SmartSky Networks has received an additional US$25 million from funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities team at BlackRock, after surpassing an important network deployment milestone on its way towards beginning commercial operations during the second quarter of 2020.

Funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities platform at BlackRock previously committed to a $75 million credit facility, with $50 million drawn initially. The final $25 million was contingent upon the company making substantial progress on the nationwide network rollout, which it achieved in November 2019.

“SmartSky has consistently been able to attract capital from top companies because there is strong support for our technology in aviation connectivity,” said Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO.

SmartSky’s new-generation network uses a novel single-beam-per-aircraft approach using both proven 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies.