Satcom Direct Aircraft Easy Antennas set to debut
Satcom Direct is preparing to release its first two Plane Simple satellite communication antennas this year, which will provide lower cost, high speed connectivity options for a larger number of airframes. The SD Plane Simple Ku antenna, scheduled for launch in June, will provide connectivity through Intelsat’s broadband Ku-band satellite service. In the meantime, the SD Plane Simple Certus LEO antenna, which will be available in the fourth quarter, will access Iridium’s new LEO L-band constellation (Next Low Earth Orbit) and its high-speed Certus service. Chris Moore, President of Satcom Direct, called the couple “exciting milestone products”.
Iridium, a long-time authorized service reseller of its Satcom services, appointed Satcom Direct, based in Florida, an authorized hardware OEM two years ago. Satcom Direct introduced the Plane Simple range of modular, agnostic antennas with open architecture in February 2020. This and the upcoming tarpaulin Simple antennas consist of two interchangeable line units, including the SDR Gateway 2.0 router, which integrates the modem, and the antenna. As the name of the portfolio suggests, the products are designed to be easy on board and reduce the associated costs. “We were conscious of minimizing the invasiveness of installations,” said Moore.
Additional approvals for model certificates for a variety of aircraft are in development for both systems and will be available upon product release.
The Certus LEO antenna will be among the first connectivity options to provide access to Iridium’s Next LEO constellation and provide high-speed connectivity on-board airframes from single and larger turboprop aircraft. The small form factor antenna mounted on the fuselage will also be the first Certus high gain antenna, offering a more focused beam and better connectivity than low gain antennas. The antenna meets the performance requirements of Iridium for class H2 systems and supports the highest current and future Certus data rates.
The new digital and high-frequency module with an Iridium core, the Certus 9810 transceiver, delivers a maximum speed of 704 kbit / s, about ten times the speed of classic Iridium, and supports HD video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive applications. With Satcom Direct’s acceleration tools, it will be “more than a megabit per second,” said Moore.
LEO constellations offer several advantages over geostationary satellite connectivity. The satellites orbit the earth around 45 times closer and have a correspondingly lower latency or delay time in bidirectional traffic. Their proximity allows for smaller and lighter antenna prints that reduce power consumption and drag. and they are less prone to terrestrial weather disturbance. Coverage is also better in polar regions with higher latitude.
Satcom Direct is headquartered in Melbourne, Florida.
Satcom Direct also sees a market for the Certus service as a backup of the cabin system or for dedicated cockpit connectivity on board larger platforms that are equipped with Ka-band systems, or for aircraft that operate at higher latitudes where a geostationary Coverage is unreliable or unavailable. Hardware and service plan pricing for the Certus service has yet to be announced, but Satcom Direct, both as an authorized hardware OEM and a value-added service reseller, will be able to offer attractive turnkey packages, Moore said.
The Plane Simple Ku antenna, designed for medium and larger business jets, also provides access to the Intelsat FlexExec Ku-band broadband network. In cooperation with the German aviation antenna specialist QEST (Quantum Electronic Systems), Satcom Direct developed the electronically controlled 12-inch rear antenna with phased array.
Ku operates in a lower frequency range and doesn’t offer as much bandwidth as Ka-band systems, which are currently the “gold standard for onboard connectivity,” said Moore. However, Satcom Direct sees “a niche in the market for customers with a GIV or a global who may have had difficulty justifying the higher installation and service costs of Ka-Band.”
Combined with the SD Pro platform and connectivity management tools, aircraft with Ka-band connectivity could use an additional Ku service to manage data loads, e.g. B. to automatically shift the data communication requirements of several passengers with low latency to the Ku constellation as required. For those interested in secure communications and data integrity, Satcom Direct’s Comsat division, which handles its military and government services, is the exclusive Satcom service provider for the Air Force Space Command’s Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services program.
The Ku service could also serve as a portal for a number of Internet of Things-based services, which Satcom Direct can customize for larger customers, according to Moore.
While MROs will obviously have a say in installation costs, Satcom Direct is targeting “under $ 400,000 installation,” including hardware for Plane Simple Ku antenna systems, Moore said. Satcom Direct is the exclusive provider of the new antenna and should begin flight testing the Ku installation on its Gulfstream jet at the end of February.
Satcom Direct is also working with QEST on its upcoming Plane Simple Ka TMA for medium to large cabin jets (scheduled to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2022) and the fuselage-mounted Plane Simple Flat Panel phased array antenna for light and larger jets (for Service entry around 2023).