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Michael Eisner Stays Connected at 40,000 Ft and Beyond

Michael Eisner Stays Connected at 40,000 Ft and Beyond

  • Business mogul and philanthropist Michael Eisner stays connected from takeoff to landing on his Bombardier Global 6000 thanks to aircraft upgrades with Honeywell Forge and JetWave Ka-Band satellite communications.

Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company from 1984-2005, and current owner of the Portsmouth Football Club, Founder of the Tornante Company and The Eisner Foundation needs to stay connected no matter where he is. On the tarmac or crossing the Atlantic, Mr. Eisner trusts Honeywell Forge connectivity and the JetWave satellite communications system (SATCOM) for the most reliable service in the industry. “I may have more experience with Honeywell than anybody in the world” he says. “In 1964, I was an usher and a Page at NBC and I was dating this woman who I’m still dating - she’s my wife - and she was a computer programmer at Honeywell. She made twice what I made and I thought, there’s a future here. That’s why I married her,” he jokes. Speaking of the future, Mr. Eisner doesn’t bother too much with self-reflection and reminiscing. “The thought of going back is boring. The thought of going forward is what’s exciting. Everybody talks about the good old days, which of course they weren’t. These are the good old days.”


With travel back on the calendar, chief pilot Renan Bayer is back in the cockpit. “The Bombardier Global 6000 is an amazing platform. It has very capable legs, it goes long distances, it’s quiet, it’s comfortable and it’s state-of-the-art.” Whether a trans-Atlantic trip to Europe to see his football team in action, or lunch in Chicago, Mr. Eisner and his flight crew are ready to takeoff once again, and staying connected throughout the duration of the flight isn’t just convenient, it’s a necessity. Often flying with his sons, each with their own business, it’s imperative that every passenger can use their devices simultaneously. “The great thing about the new connectivity is the bandwidth; you can all work on different things at the same time. It’s most useful for me catching up with emails or seeing video that I would never have been able to see on a plane. We never used to be able to live-stream, and now, even if we’re flying, we can watch our team play in a live match or a baseball game or catch things that we couldn’t watch before. Before, we would delay our flight, now, it’s available.” And when he leases his plane for charter, passengers expect to get, and stay, connected. “I don’t think we could lease the plane today without Wi-Fi. The customers demand it. It’s not an option, you have to have it.”


Mr. Eisner’s aircraft previously could only connect at 10,000 feet or higher, and before that, there was no Wi-Fi at all. Upgrading was inevitable, and he trusts his flight crew to make the best decisions to keep him safe and comfortable on board, so choosing Honeywell was simple. “It was a strong recommendation from me because I have background with Honeywell,” says Bayer. “Our previous aircraft had a Honeywell Avionics Suite and it was flawless. The 24/7 customer support that we get with a Honeywell Forge operation is standalone. We’ve been given one contact in particular who’s assigned to our account; Behind him, there is a fleet of trained personnel that know the system inside and out working to ensure our system is up and running whenever we need it. In our industry, reliability isn’t just an expectation, it’s mandatory, and with Honeywell Forge and JetWave, we have that. Mr. Eisner chose Honeywell Forge for its reliability, its cost-effectiveness and overall, its performance. It’s top-notch in the industry and it’s beyond our expectations at this point.”

Mike Lavin, director of maintenance, agrees. “JetWave is so reliable, I’m not remotely concerned about anything prior to a flight. It basically runs itself so I can be more focused on the pre-flight operations of the aircraft. It’s just really flawless. I can’t express how grateful and happy I am with the JetWave install. It couldn’t have been better. From the pre-planning stages to the actual aircraft in the hangar, it went pretty much along the timeline. We didn’t have any latitude, either left or right with the timeframe getting it out, because when Mr. Eisner has to get up in the air, he has to get up in the air, so the delivery had to be flawless. And the delivery was on time and on schedule - it was dead on.”

Bayer, adds, “Clay Lacy is our premier aircraft operator, so working behind the scenes with them and now with our Honeywell Forge Wi-Fi upgrade, it makes things easier. From dispatch to reliability, we’re able to communicate with our team members from in the air to on the ground, seamlessly, and that kind of communication in aviation is always paramount.”


One of the biggest draws to the Honeywell Forge system was Mr. Eisner’s ability to stay connected,” says Bayer. “That connectivity is available from the time he steps on board the aircraft, to the time we land, and that’s invaluable. From streaming soccer matches to staying in contact with his business, connectivity is a priority.”

Previously, a single satphone in an aircraft was considered acceptable. These days, it’s Wi-Fi, and the better the Wi-Fi, the better the connectivity which attributes to real-time information at any altitude. “A premier system such as Honeywell Forge with JetWave, together, is top of the line. This allows our passengers and our owners to have the connectivity experience and the same amount of productivity that rivals being on the ground. Our previous ground-based internet system was capable of little more than email and small data package transfers. These days we can do everything from live streaming on multiple devices, FaceTime calls, live TV, and for us in the cockpit, it makes a big difference. As a pilot, using the Honeywell Forge system, we have access to real-time weather and that’s huge for us. Having that constant communication absolutely adds to the safety factor, and safety is paramount in our industry. That’s the number one thing our owner and our customers concentrate on. Aside from that, it’s a convenience. With JetWave, we have instant communication with the owners’ representatives on the ground, coordinating transportation or last-minute requests. It makes things happen in a timelier manner. That type of solid connection allows us the confidence that we can answer questions to our principal. We can give them a more complete information package of what to expect on the other side.”


In this day and age, cybersecurity is equally critical to any other safety feature to protect your assets and your passengers. Bayer understands the value of dependable cybersecurity. “It’s extremely important and the Honeywell Forge dashboard allows us to monitor what devices are onboard, what devices are on our system, and to configure the security level to the needs of our customer.” Aside from safety, the system allows holistic control of the network. “We have dedicated passwords, and the ability to contour the system with different parameters for a charter flight than we would an owner flight. We’re allowed to restrict large downloads and updates or things up, as necessary to our owner. I have the ability to change cybersecurity settings on the go depending on where we are and who we’re flying. It’s an all encompassing, adaptable system that really benefits our operation.” Bayer adds, “If we were ever to expand and move into monitoring and maintenance parameters, real-time flight tracking, sensor management on the aircraft, engine oversight, that’s all built into the Honeywell GoDirect Router as part of the Honeywell Forge system capabilities. Honestly, one of the biggest things that I appreciate about the entire system is its ability to adapt with change.”

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