Introducing the World’s First Operational Cabin Connectivity Retrofit for Every Business Jet

‘Connectivity’ has become a buzzword in aviation over the past few years, alongside ‘sustainability’ and ‘cyber security’. With internet connectivity becoming so readily available over the past few decades in every hotel, restaurant, conference, even on yachts, it’s no surprise that aircraft are no longer considered exempt from offering the same.

It’s become standard, expected even, that passengers flying in First or Business Class on airliners will receive free access to internet. So imagine a passenger’s shock when they discover that no internet connectivity is available on an exclusive charter flight.

This customer expectation is driving operators to retrofit internet connectivity on private aircraft. Those operators who have connectivity capabilities will become the preferred operators, enabling travelers to remain connected to the rest of the world throughout their flight.

Reliable, fast, usable internet connectivity on business jets is no longer a “nice-to-have” – it’s a must.

Connectivity for Business Jets

Until recently, the connectivity options for small to medium business jets have been limited.

Ku-band satellite systems, while supporting high-speed internet and widespread coverage, involve significant initial costs for installation, and can increase drag and fuel consumption on smaller aircraft due to the size of the required hardware. Other solutions, like Air-to-Ground (ATG) systems, have lighter equipment, but can be affected by higher altitudes and weather.

So when QCM Design’s CEO, Christian Schusser, was approached by Collins Aerospace at EBACE in 2023 to design and certify the retrofit of their new connectivity solution suitable for ANY business jet, he jumped at the opportunity to be involved in pioneering a prototype for this solution.

The Connectivity Solution

Collins Aerospace’s IRT NX Satellite Communication (SATCOM) system was designed with the modern business professional in mind. It connects to the Iridium Certus® 700 network,  the fastest L-Band available on the market which boasts internet speeds of 704 kbps, and worldwide, weather-resistant coverage with pole to pole connectivity.

While the internet speed is lower than some of the other solutions on the market, it’s fast enough to support a business professional’s usage on a short-haul flight. Most CEOs are more concerned with keeping across their emails and making phone calls on a 2-hour flight, than streaming their favorite Netflix series. Iridium Certus® 700 supports voice calls, sending/receiving texts and emails, browsing the internet, social media usage, and low/standard resolution video.

As an added bonus, the on-going subscription and costs are much more affordable than what you would typically pay for internet connectivity in the air. Low enough that operators could hypothetically offer “free WiFi” to passengers.

Recognizing a gap in the business jet market for affordable and fast internet connectivity, Collins Aerospace developed a lightweight solution, IRT NX, which could be retrofitted on any aircraft, regardless of its size.

It includes a data unit, configuration module, antenna and WiFi Router, which provides consistent, cohesive connectivity throughout the aircraft while using less power than legacy systems. The high-gain antenna is substantially smaller and lighter than other connectivity solutions on the market, making it an ideal solution for small to medium aircraft, where other, larger solutions fail.


Image source: Prince Aviation, May 2024. Used with permission.

Designing & Installing the IRT NX Solution

The aircraft selected for the prototype was a Cessna Citation 525 Jet owned and operated by Prince Aviation, a highly regarded MRO and operator based in Serbia, who would be completing the installation based on QCM Design’s certified approved design data.

Being the first organizations to complete this retrofit on a small cabin business jet, this project challenged the design engineers from QCM Design and the aircraft technicians from Prince Aviation to exercise critical thinking and pre-emptively solve issues which may arise from a design and solutions architecture perspective.

This included making sure that the SATCOM solution would not interfere with or affect any existing systems on the aircraft (such as GPS signals) and plan for space within the cabin for the new units and for relocations of some of the pre-existing antennas. These structural and wiring changes had to be diligently planned by the QCM team to ensure that all relevant airworthiness requirements stipulated by EASA were adhered to.

Image source: Prince Aviation, May 2024. Used with permission.

The World’s First Operational Connectivity Retrofit for Every Business Jet

12 months after the initial discussions at EBACE 2023, the Citation 525, retrofit with the world’s first operational cabin connectivity for every business jet (and decked out in stunning livery!), was announced and showcased at EBACE 2024, in conjunction with Prince Aviation and Collins Aerospace.

Image source: Prince Aviation, May 2024. Used with permission.

While we encountered some challenges throughout this project, the resulting solution was successful from both a design and installation perspective, particularly as this solution had to be designed from scratch, with no prior STCs to draw from.

The retrofit SATCOM system operates independently of any other systems in that other systems do not need to be turned off or on, and the entire process from start to finish was completed in a relatively short period of time.

Most importantly, the onboard WiFi works! Christian and I tested it ourselves a few weeks ago on a short flight from Belgrade to Montenegro, alongside representatives from Collins Aerospace and Prince Aviation.

Author photos

The EASA-approved STC obtained by QCM Design for the Citation 525 series, and the proof of concept and experience acquired across both QCM’s engineers and Prince Aviation’s technicians, allows the same installation to be applied to any Citation 525 jet with the same configuration within only a few weeks.

For business jets for which an STC is not yet available, an additional few weeks are necessary for planning and certification by QCM Design before installation can begin.

Already, the QCM team has started planning and designing the installation of Collins’ IRT NX SATCOM solution on a Cessna Citation XLS/XLS+, also in conjunction with Prince Aviation, and on a Beech 200 in conjunction with DAO Aviation in Denmark, with plans to expand to additional models in the coming months.

Image source: Prince Aviation, May 2024. Used with permission.

To document the completion of such a significant project, interviews with team members from QCM Design, Prince Aviation, and Collins Aerospace were recorded and compiled into a 15 minute video. Click here to watch the full interview, which introduces each of the companies and describes the solution, as well as challenges faced throughout the project.

Fast, reliable – and affordable

“Reliable, fast internet connectivity which uses lightweight equipment that can be retrofit on any aircraft (even the smaller ones!) in a matter of weeks is all well and good, but what about the cost?”, you might be wondering.

Good question. Most aircraft buyers will hesitate to spend as much money on internet connectivity as they spent on purchasing the aircraft itself (and for good reason), which is true of some of the larger solutions with higher internet speeds, particularly if the aircraft in question is a smaller one.

The good news is that the overall cost of this particular solution (equipment, installation, use of the STC) is more proportional to the cost of smaller aircraft, and hence more affordable – for a quote, please reach out to

All in all, Collins’ IRT NX solution is a solid contender for owners or operators of small to medium-sized aircraft who are looking to retrofit internet connectivity for cabin or cockpit use, and rumor has it that Iridium has plans to increase the internet speed further in the future.

Image source: Prince Aviation, May 2024. Used with permission.

Final Thoughts

As internet connectivity in business aviation grows in importance, so too does the focus by avionics companies on developing solutions suitable for a range of business aircraft.

While Collins’ IRT NX solution is the first and only solution which is already certified and in use, and has been retrofit on a small cabin business jet, we expect to see the number of available solutions continue to grow in the next 12 months as more avionics companies jump on board.

We’re excited to see what the future holds for connectivity, and we look forward to helping our clients plan and certify similar modifications to enable connectivity in their aircraft!

Written by Laura Guillaume
June, 2024

About QCM Design

QCM Design is an EASA Approved Part-21 DOA with over 10 years’ experience helping clients design and certify their aircraft design goals, while ensuring that the highest safety regulations and industrial quality standards are met.

For more information about this connectivity solution, or to enquire about how we can assist with any other minor or major changes to your aircraft, please send us an email via, or submit the form below.

We can also tailor-make solutions for any desired design concept, including the installation of new avionics or electronics systems, cabin interiors, galleys, or various other equipment installations.


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