• 06.03.2017
  • Air, RUAG MRO International
  • Media release

New solution for 4G connectivity in helicopter cabin

RUAG MRO Switzerland is developing a solution for a brand new 4G LTE connectivity experience in helicopters. This allows passengers to enjoy the same connectivity as they have on the ground. For this purpose RUAG MRO Switzerland is certifying an European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certification (STC)....

With this new STC RUAG MRO Switzerland is focusing on a solution for the VVIP market. The decision to offer a new solution was taken in response to a customer request for truly reliable smartphone data connectivity at an affordable price. The STC is based on employing the same architecture used for today’s 4G LTE broadband technology. Customers are set to benefit from a presently unmatched seamless, fast and reliable internet connection.

“Discerning customers expect to stay connected easily and with as much speed as they have in their homes and offices,” asserts Philippe Niquille, who leads the Helicopter Cabin Interiors center of excellence at RUAG MRO Switzerland in Emmen. He explains, “Our customer approached us with the request for an in-flight helicopter cabin solution allowing them to have the same access to smartphone connectivity as they do when they are on the ground. Their requirements include instant messaging, video calling, full social media interaction, live streaming and fast internet searches.”

Schematics of the STC involve accessing the ground-based 4G LTE networks via a dedicated antenna specifically designed for helicopters. The antenna then interfaces with an on-board router and wifi. Flight testing demonstrated clearly the reliable connection to 4G LTE networks throughout the helicopter’s entire flight - including in remote and mountainous areas. In fact, the connection effectively mirrored smartphone connectivity on the ground.

“By keeping the technology straightforward and strong, the RUAG MRO Switzerland STC  represents a solution meeting the most stringent of requirements for the most demanding customers, yet being weight efficient,” confirms Philippe Niquille. “Traditionally, helicopter cabin interior connectivity has been coupled with costly, bulky and cumbersome SATCOM systems. Now RUAG MRO Switzerland VVIP customers have the potential to experience twice as fast and reliable connection at a significantly lower operating cost.” STC development cites the Leonardo AW109 aircraft. The solution may be easily adapted for other platforms as well.

“Enabling our discriminating VVIP customers to realise a truly personal helicopter cabin interior and in-flight experience is our priority and our passion. This project highlights just one of several cabin interior features we are exploring on behalf of their comfort and well-being,” emphasises Claudio Zeiter, Team Leader Commercial Helicopter Services, RUAG MRO Switzerland.


RUAG MRO Switzerland is a leading supplier, support provider and integrator of systems and components for civil and military aviation worldwide.

Servicing aircraft and helicopters throughout their entire life cycle, the company’s core competencies include maintenance, repair and overhaul services, upgrades, and the development, manufacturing and integration of subsystems.

RUAG is an authorised service centre for OEMs of renown, such as Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Bombardier, Cirrus, Cessna, Diamond, Dassault Aviation, Embraer, Leonardo, Piaggio, Sikorsky, Piper, and Mooney, as well as a service centre for 328 Support Services, Hawker Beechcraft, Viking und MD Helicopters. RUAG MRO Switzerland is also a partner to the Swiss Armed Forces and other international air forces.

The company is also the manufacturer (OEM) of the Dornier 228, a versatile aircraft for challenging special missions and passenger and cargo operations.

RUAG MRO Switzerland is an approved Part 21/J EASA Design Organisation, Part 21/G EASA Production Organisation, and Part 145 EASA Maintenance Organisation.