RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – SmartSky Networks just got an injection of capital ahead of the launch of its new air-to-ground communications network for aviation.

The RTP-based in-flight internet provider recently raised roughly $41.3 million in equity and debt, according to a recent SEC filing. The round kicked off May 29, and SmartSky is still looking to raise another $73.6 million.

SmartSky is currently focused on expanding its coverage footprint by installing equipment on more cell towers and undertaking further system testing in preparation for launch, the company said.

“SmartSky Networks is pleased to have received considerable new capital from investors, allowing us to extend our runway as we continue deploying our next-generation Wi-Fi connectivity system for aviation,” Michael Miller, SmartSky’s VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications, told WRAL TechWire on Wednesday.

Six investors contributed to the round. The filing does not specify use of funds.

“We have received funds from multiple investors, both pre-existing and new,” Miller added. “The total amount raised in this round goes well beyond the $41 million we were legally obligated to disclose in our government filing.

“Our investors continue to demonstrate their conviction that SmartSky is commercializing innovative technology that will fundamentally transform aviation.”

With this latest round of funding, the company has raised more than $400 million since 2012.

Founded in 2011, SmartSky specializes in providing high-speed wireless internet to business and commercial airlines through cell phone towers.

In 2016, SmartSky, previously Jetpool Ventures, entered into a strategic partnership with Avidyne Corp, a company specializing in computer network and safety systems for aircraft.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the SmartSky 4G LTE system. SmartSky claims the technology will make in-flight internet faster while lowering costs.

In January, it reached 150 patents in its intellectual property portfolio and have since then have crossed the 160-patent threshold and growing. “We have over 100 more patents pending,” said Miller.

Before the pandemic, SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin had said the commercial launch of its network would be coming in the second quarter, but it has been pushed back.

“Recent events have given everyone a reason to take a pause, adapt, and grow – SmartSky included.” Miller said. “We remain excited about SmartSky’s future, despite the current slowdown in business affecting many aspects of the economy and specifically the aviation industry. We will update the market as more progress is realized.”