AirCell and UPS-AT have reached an agreement under which AirCell will provide a datalink through which DTN weather can be uplinked to the UPS-AT MX20 multifunction display. AirCell has 120 ground stations in operation and another 20 slated to come on line by the end of the year, which will provide coverage over 98 percent of the United States above 5,000 feet.
Using the DataComm 500 pilots can get data to MFDs, laptop PCs and PDAs, allowing graphical weather, including Nexrad, as well as text weather, and e-mail and internet access while airborne. The DataComm 500 also includes a voice receiver so pilots can listen to ATIS and AWOS from distances well beyond the VHF range. Suggested price of the DataComm 500 is $1,995. The baud rate for the 500 is 9,600 bps but AirCell claims with its compression technology it appears to be as fast as 28,800 bps. The weather service that AirCell will use is provided by DTN and includes Nexrad, surface depictions, winds aloft and icing displays. The basic service, which should be available soon, will be $19.95 per month plus a charge for airtime, expected to average less than $30 per month for most users.
For pilots who want full two-way telephone service in addition to the datalink capability, AirCell's Guardian 1000 answers the call. While providing all the datalink services of the 500, the 1000 adds voice and "911" emergency connection to the nearest ARTCC. Price of the Guardian 1000 is $3,595. UPS-AT said that there will be an upgrade fee on the order of $300 to $500 for the MX20 to be able to display the data.