Satcom Direct (SD) has begun the process of testing its purpose-built Ku-band tail mounted antenna system in flight, one year since the company launched its Plane Simple satcom antenna systems.
The transition from development to ground assessment to the aerial testing phase aims to validate the full performance capabilities of the Ku-band terminal. Inflight trials will also confirm the system’s integration with the SD ecosystem of hardware, software and supporting ground infrastructure.
The antenna, which is now equipped on SD’s Gulfstream aircraft, will be stretched to the limits of its capabilities while providing empirical feedback about its functionality in an aerial environment.
“It is our company philosophy to always bring products to market that we have validated internally, and we are in a unique position to have the ability to undertake system testing on our own aircraft, which gives us direct performance feedback,” said Jim Jensen, founder and CEO at SD. “The aerial validation is the next step in becoming a single-source provider of end-to-end connectivity solutions for business and government operators worldwide, which will streamline the connectivity ownership experience and customer support services.”
The aerial testing follows completion of intense drive testing in Melbourne, Florida, using a customised mobile platform.
SD’s investment in the hardware series is intended to meet the business aviation sector’s appetite for flexible, reliable and cost-effective connectivity solutions. The Plane Simple tail-mounted antenna system will support super-mid to large-size jets and is being developed in partnership with QEST, a Germany-based aeronautical antennas specialist.
“Aviation is moving towards a digital industry, and data is the foundation for informed decision-making by operations, finance and maintenance departments,” said Jensen. “It is essential that we can offer powerful connectivity solutions to a much broader business aviation audience that also support enhanced data management and analytics. The start of our inflight testing within a year of announcing the hardware expansion highlights just how committed we are to meeting these market needs.”
The Plane Simple Ku-band antenna is the first in a series of antenna systems being developed by SD. As a value-added manufacturer and service provider for Iridium Certus, SD is also designing and manufacturing a Plane Simple antenna system for compatibility with the new network offering from Iridium, while also providing the service directly to the business aviation community.
The company is aiming to launch a Ka-band variant tail-mount antenna in 2022, followed by an electronically steered, fuselage-mounted phased-array antenna, designed to deliver high-speed connectivity via upcoming LEO constellations.