Next-generation satcom antennas to be introduced at Aircraft Interiors Expo

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Astronics AeroSat plans to debut three new next-generation satcom inflight connectivity solutions at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), to be held in Hamburg, Germany, on April 2-4, 2019.

Developed in conjunction with Phasor, the antennas feature electronically steered array (ESA) technology designed to deliver unprecedented connection reliability for aircraft.

Available in three configurations and with an ultra-low profile, the E-Series will provide Ku- and Ku-HTS connectivity for today’s geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) networks, as well as tomorrow’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) networks. The system also will offer dual-beam capability, enabling it to support the future ‘make before break’ requirement of non-GEO networks from a single array, or the ability to communicate with two independent GEOs or a LEO and GEO network simultaneously.

“We are creating some very exciting new technology with this product, and we believe the new E-Series will provide seamless connectivity for both new and existing networks while providing a true, solid-state, active array antenna system,” said Matthew Harrah, president of Astronics AeroSat. “This provides cost and reliability advantages for airlines, business and military aviation, satellite network operators, and most importantly, the passenger and their inflight connectivity experience.”

“Phasor is very excited to be working with Astronics,” said David Helfgott, CEO at Phasor. “Together we are providing the aviation industry with the best of both worlds – leading electronically steered antenna innovation coupled with best-in-class avionics and aeronautical satcom terminal integration expertise. We plan to deliver next-generation inflight connectivity across multiple airframe types and satellite communications networks.”

Astronics’ E-Series antennas will feature Phasor’s active electronically steered array to provide maximum antenna performance. The company says the E-Series will feature technology that enables a simultaneous transmit and receive from a single antenna array, with no need for bulky extra panels. The system offers a flexible, modular architecture to serve a wide variety of aircraft types and applications.

The E-1000 model will serve existing GEO constellations and is ready for LEO and MEO satellites for twin-and single-aisle commercial aircraft. This model measures 78 x 61 x 3.5in. The E-600 model is a mid-size solution measuring 78 x 47 x 3.5in, intended to serve the same networks but targeted for single-aisle and business aviation aircraft. The E-200 model is a small-size version, a future-concept antenna for LEO-only satellite networks that is suitable for turboprops up through twin-aisle commercial aircraft based on connectivity needs.

The modular nature of Phasor’s technology allows for additional installation options, so custom systems can be configured based on the application and customer requirements, to include conformal flush mounting integrated into the fuselage.

Astronics says the antennas are suitable for both civilian and military aircraft, and designed to withstand harsh weather environments, de-icing fluid, and reduced aerodynamic impact on other antennas and fuselage structures.

There is hybrid network and satellite constellation support for future mixed (LEO/MEO/GEO) satellite networks. The antennas are <4in in height, which the company says reduces drag. They can also conform to the aircraft fuselage to optimize aerodynamics and high latitude operational performance. Additional features include 100% solid-state ESA, with no moving parts, and ARINC 791/792 mounting compliance.

Astronics will display prototypes of the antenna systems at AIX, to generate customer and industry feedback. Technology demonstrations of the inflight performance are planned for early 2020, with STC/PMA authorizations expected by 2021.

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria and Railway Interiors International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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