2Ku antenna challenges meet the A220 – PaxEx.Aero
An Air Canada A220-300 with an installed 2Ku antenna. (Image via Air Canada)
The Gogo / Intelsat 2Ku radome mount causes problems again. This time the Airbus 220 family of aircraft is affected, but the problem is not new. Air vortices generated by the antenna radome create excessive vibrations in the ELT antenna (Emergency Locator Transmitter). Over time, this can lead to the ELT antenna becoming detached from the fuselage or cracks appearing, relieving the cabin of pressure.
The problem is almost identical to the problems with the A330 / A340 2Ku installations reported in 2018. These installations were stopped and the certification adjusted to meet the challenges.
The certificate of installation for the A220 remains valid to this day, but airlines must periodically review the systems to ensure the structural integrity of the aircraft.
Transport Canada has issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that addresses the issue and describes several incidents that triggered the Airworthiness Directive:
Two ELT antenna failures have been reported, including a case where the antenna left the aircraft and slightly damaged the vertical stabilizer skin. The investigation found that these ELT antenna failures were caused by vibration loads caused by air vortices emitted by the Gogo 2Ku antenna radome. If not corrected, this situation can lead to the loss of the ELT antenna and the development of fuselage cracks, which can result in the cabin pressure being unable to be maintained.
To reduce the risks associated with the loss of the ELT antenna and the inability to maintain cabin pressure, this AD requires the replacement of the ELT antenna with a new ELT antenna at a specified interval and repeated inspection of the outer hull skin around the ELT antenna attachment area.
According to the Airworthiness Directive, airlines must replace the ELT and inspect the fuselage skin surrounding the assembly point. The time for this exchange is on a sliding scale, but not more than 850 flight hours after the AD was issued. After the initial replacement, a re-inspection and replacement is required every 2,500 hours to ensure the system remains reliable.
At least 65 A220s may be affected by AD. These include 48 at Delta Air Lines (41 of the -100, 7 of the -300) and 17 of the -300 at Air Canada. Both freight forwarders have further A220 deliveries pending, which will probably also carry the 2Ku system.
It is unclear whether Intelsat will provide an alternate installation option that mitigates the vortex effect, such as is available on the A330.
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