Satcom Direct and Gilat sign strategic agreement for ESAs

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Satcom Direct and Gilat Satellite Networks have signed a strategic agreement to develop and supply ultra-low profile electronically steered antennas (ESAs) to support inflight connectivity (IFC) for the business aviation, government and defence sectors.

Available from 2025 and designed for optimised compatibility with the OneWeb low earth orbit (LEO) constellation, the hardware strengthens the Plane Simple antenna series portfolio with the addition of the Gilat ESA designed to unlock the full broadband potential of OneWeb.

The collaboration will see Gilat develop the antenna system while Satcom Direct Avionics, the Canadian hardware manufacturing division of SD, will work with OneWeb to develop the SD Modem Unit to harness the full potential of the LEO constellation. The antenna will be designed for full-duplex performance, a key capability in a small-form, power-efficient device that allows data to be sent and received simultaneously.

This ESA terminal, including the radome, will aim to provide a compact form factor (around 2.5in or 64mm) and unlock the highest possible bandwidth from the OneWeb network. The addition to the Plane Simple antenna series reflects the SD agnostic philosophy, which aims to enable customised connectivity solutions tailored for mission requirements with a common terminal architecture, simplified upgrades and flexible pricing plans.

“We already have a strong relationship with OneWeb and have engaged with Gilat, due to their long satcom, aviation and radio frequency pedigree, to create the next-generation ESA in support of creating a solution that provides more options to our customers seeking reliable high-speed connectivity or additional redundancy,” said Chris Moore, president at Satcom Direct. “The ESA terminal will provide genuine global coverage and superior bandwidth performance, complemented by ease of installation. This most advanced terminal will also address customer requests to lower aircraft drag, weight and fuel burn. We’re excited to add this new state-of-the-art antenna from Gilat to our portfolio. We know customers will welcome the reality of the truly global coverage from such a small format terminal.”

“We are honoured to have been selected by Satcom Direct to provide them with our expertise to develop this new ESA product,” said Adi Sfadia, Gilat CEO. “Together, we will create a next-generation ESA to support the dynamic connectivity demands of the global business aviation sector with a best-in-class antenna. The agreement gives us the opportunity to expand our proven technology know-how in commercial aviation and to showcase our expertise alongside Satcom Direct, the only company dedicated to delivering satcom connectivity to business and government aviation worldwide. It is a major milestone for Gilat as we extend our global IFC leadership in commercial aviation to business aviation, as well as into our strategic focus area in government and defence.”

“The combined expertise of Satcom Direct Avionics, Gilat and OneWeb will deliver customers faster, more consistent broadband services across the globe,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb. “In the dynamic connectivity landscape, it is essential we team with premium partners, which is why we’re delighted to be part of this powerful offering as we reinforce our presence and service in the business aviation sector.”

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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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