Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)is partnering with Outerlink to certify the Air IP Wi-Fi system in its Bell 407 helicopter.

MCSO has consistently recognized the value of its helicopter capabilities and sought to get a cost-effective, reliable means to stream live video down while simultaneously capturing critical officer position data in the aircraft.

After years of testing several products, they agreed to put Outerlink’s Air IP system to a real-time test. The Air IP Wi-Fi system delivered HD video from the helicopter with a half-second delay and simultaneously streamed data and movies from the internet.   

“We had heard good things about the Outerlink Air IP system but wanted to see it for ourselves and ensure it delivered bandwidth in both directions,” said MCSO Aviation Unit commander Darren Bruner.

“Not only did it perform, but it also exceeded our expectations. It gave us solid performance in transmitting and receiving, so we agreed to let Outerlink use our newest 407 for the STC [supplemental type certificate] development.”

“We have a long history of developing innovative aircraft satellite communication products and services,” said Outerlink VP Jeff Warner. “We are fully aware of satellite limitations for helicopters, so we decided to build a system that could keep the customers connected and provide them with a triple redundant bonded network that would minimize any loss of service or interruption during flight. The Air IP capability allows simultaneous video and data streaming to and from the helicopter. It has even allowed a customer to conduct an uninterrupted Zoom meeting during flight.”

The need to provide a stable platform with sufficient bandwidth was paramount. Customer operational data shows a varying number of clients logging in simultaneously, with an average of five devices logged in and an average of seven to 20 Mbps of bandwidth for the entire flight duration.

“We are happy to partner with Outerlink to develop the 407 STC as the system benefits owners and operators in virtually every application. This is a huge advancement in helicopter operations, and it will allow us to serve our customers with innovative capabilities you cannot get anywhere else. I knew the patented bonding technology would set this system apart from any other available on the market,” said Edward Allen, director of engineering for Sterling Helicopter.

“We plan to expand this STC globally in 2023 into EASA [the European Union Aviation Safety Agency], ANAC [the National Civil Aviation Agency – Brazil] and TCCA [Transport Canada Civil Aviation].  We are also adding more Part 29 and Part 27 models”.

Aero Brigham completed the aircraft and finalized the integration with the forward looking infrared (FLIR) and Shotover augmented reality mapping system (ARS).

Dave Brigham, Aero Brigham founder, said: “The helicopter community has been seeking the Air IP solution for years, and we are excited that we can bring it to the law enforcement and public service markets, including the rigorous firefighting customers.”

The Air IP system uses proven proprietary technology to establish a seamless and secure Wi-Fi signal throughout the entire aircraft at a fraction of the cost of some existing technologies. Now customers can bring the newest technology to their aircraft and enjoy all the amenities of the Digital Age.

The current STC is available for Leonardo AW139 (Part 29) helicopters. Outerlink and Sterling plan to add more aircraft models soon.