Tag Archives: AvGas

784 Inflight Connectivity

Inflight connectivity with the CEO of air-to-ground network provider SmartSky Networks. In the news, an update on B737 MAX 9 inspections, unleaded avgas testing, and an Air Force officer has been crowned Miss America. Also, more favorite aviation movies.

Cessna Citation Excel equipped with SmartSky inflight connectivity.
SmartSky-equipped Cessna Citation Excel


David Helfgott is the Chief Executive Officer of SmartSky Networks, a provider of air-to-ground inflight connectivity services. The company offers real-time, low latency, bidirectional data links that serve the business aviation, general aviation, and commercial aviation markets. The network takes advantage of patented spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming technologies, and 60 MHz of spectrum for enhanced connectivity.

David Helfgott headshot. CEO of SmartSky Networks
David Helfgott, SmartSky CEO

Dave describes the pros and cons of ground and satellite-based inflight connectivity systems. He explains the practical differences between bandwidth, latency, and upload/download speed, and the reasons why some aircraft employ both ground and satellite networks.

We look at the differences in antenna size and weight for the different network solutions and how that impacts system selection for commercial and business aviation use. Dave describes the supporting SmartSky ground network and how the towers use beam forming to provide connectivity to specific aircraft. We touch on several other topics, including the data requirements of the three different domains of commercial aircraft (PAX, operational, cockpit), the unique needs of air cargo, and future industry trends.

Inflight connectivity antenna on belly of plane.
SmartSky Networks antenna

As a 20+ year industry veteran, Dave has extensive experience in airborne communications, satellite broadband, mobile telecommunications, and commercial and government SATCOM networking services.  He was previously President and CEO of phased-array antenna developer Phasor. Before that, he held several senior executive roles including President and CEO of Inmarsat Government, President of Tactical Wireless Communications for Cobham, President and CEO of Datapath, and President and CEO of SES Government. He holds a BA degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden School of Business.

Aviation News

Boeing Still Without a Timeline to Return to the Skies

Following the loss of a mid-cabin door plug on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane on January 5, 2024, the first round of 40 preliminary inspections was completed. The FAA is reviewing the results. The planes remain grounded until an inspection and maintenance process is approved by the FAA and then applied to all grounded planes.

See also: 

NTSB chair: Boeing CEO called, wants to rectify errors made in past

At a briefing to House of Representatives lawmakers, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said that Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun called and said “they want to rectify errors” made in the past.

Phillips 66 Suspends Unleaded AvGas Testing

Phillips 66 has been evaluating an unleaded avgas alternative with Afton Chemicals under the Piston Engine Aviation Fuels Initiative. After a major test failure, Phillips 66 has “paused” their evaluation. The FAA confirmed that “PAFI evaluation of the Phillips 66/Afton Chemical 100M unleaded fuel has been paused due to issues encountered during durability testing.” Three other companies are developing unleaded avgas:

US Air Force officer crowned as 2024 Miss America

22-year-old Madison Marsh was crowned as the 2024 Miss America. She’s a second lieutenant in the US Air Force and a master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program. Marsh became the first active-duty Air Force officer ever to win the contest. See One Lieutenant’s Journey from USAFA to Miss Colorado to Harvard from the Air Education and Training Command.


The Myth Of Old Boeing by Bill Sweetman.

17th Annual Triple Tree Fly-In September 23-29, 2024, Triple Tree Aerodrome, Woodruff, South Carolina.

Flashlight damages $14 million F-35 fighter engine beyond repair at Luke AFB

A report by the Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board [PDF] showed the incident occurred on March 15, 2023, while the jet was undergoing some maintenance work.

Japanese startup plans to vaporize space junk using ground lasers

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

Episode 147 – Todd McClamroch’s Flight Blog

QF-4E phantom of 82d Aerial Target Sqd Part of USAF Heritage Flight

Todd McClamroch from My Flight Blog.com is our guest this episode. Todd’s site is one of the longest running General Aviation blogs around, and has been featured in the press including Wall Street Journal, AOPA Pilot and AOPA Flight Training Magazine. We talk about reasons for the high dropout rate among student pilots, including the lack of inclusion in pilot communities, the role of the CFI and mentors in helping students complete their flight training, and the the value of events for students. You can follow Todd on Twitter at @MyFlightBlog.

Be sure to see Max, Rob, Dan, and David at the Become a Pilot Family Day and Fly-In June 18, 2011, 10 a.m. – 3p.m., at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center next to Dulles International Airport. The Geeks will be joining Milford and Charlie from FlightTime Radio, along with some other aviation podcasters as they broadcast their show live.

Normally, FlightTime Radio runs for an hour, but we’re going to buy a second hour of air time for this event. You can help by making a small donation to buy another hour of time for aviation greatness on the radio station. See http://www.airplanegeeks.com/send-the-airplane-geeks-to-washington/ for more information.

The week’s aviation news:

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast provide an interesting Australia Desk Report with Stephen Force from the Airspeed podcast. Be sure to check out the Acrocamp site to follow the progress of that documentary film. The Plane Crazy Down Under podcast is on Twitter at @pcdu, Steve at @stevevisscher and Grant at @falcon124.

In this week’s Across the Pond segment, Pieter Johnson talks with Diego López-Salazar from the Spanish aviation podcast AeroPodcast about the strength of Spanish airlines and if the threat of striking airport workers has finally subisided in Spain. Find Pieter on Twitter at @Nascothornet and Diego at


Follow the @AirplaneGeeks on Twitter and on Facebook, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave a message on our listener line: (361) GEEKS01.

Opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at http://www.brotherloverocks.com/.

Episode 103 – Live ATC

Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon

Guest Dave Pascoe from LiveATC.net explains how he provides real-time Air Traffic Control feeds directly to your browser, mp3 player, and mobile device. LiveATC will be streaming ATC communications live from EAA Airventure at Oshkosh (in a joint partnership with EAA) – including both Tower frequencies and some other goodies. Look for Dave during the first few days of the show.

The week’s aviation news:

David returns with his This Week in Aviation history segment. Steve and Grant from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast have another great Australia Desk report.

Follow the @AirplaneGeeks on Twitter and on Facebook, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave a message on our listener line: (361) GEEKS01.

Opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at http://www.brotherloverocks.com/.

Episode 95 – Alaskan Bush Pilots

1943-Norseman-Aircraft by Jim Oltersdorf

Jim Oltersdorf joins us to talk about bush flying in Alaska. Jim is a pilot and an accomplished aviation and outdoor photographer and writer. He thrives in extreme and high-risk areas, and he’s produced a high def documentary film called Alaska’s Bush Pilots, The Real Deal , A true story about the pilots, their aircraft, nature and the wilderness of Alaska. You can find Jim’s personal page at http://www.joltersdorf.com/ and his site for the film at http://www.alaskasbushpilots.com/.

We also have with us this episode Bob Poole, the founder of the Reason Foundation, a free market think tank. Bob has some interesting things to say about the NextGen ATC system that’s been in the works for over a decade. Bob was among the first to propose the commercialization of the U.S. air traffic control system, and his work has helped shape proposals for a U.S. air traffic control corporation.

We favored our guests over the news this time, but we did mention:

Follow the @AirplaneGeeks on Twitter and on Facebook, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave a message on our listener line: (361) GEEKS01.

Opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. Find more BroLo at his site: http://www.brotherloverocks.com/.