Satcom Direct (SD) is partnering with communications company OneWeb and aeronautical antenna specialist QEST to progress the development of an electronic phased array antenna supporting OneWeb’s mobility services.
The agreement also covers a long-term distribution partner agreement whereby SD will market and sell OneWeb’s inflight broadband services. Development has already begun on the flat-panel antenna, with initial demonstrator technology scheduled to validate over-the-air performance, in small form factor across the OneWeb satellite constellation in Q4 2022.
Designed for smaller aircraft, the lightweight, low-profile, modular antenna is intended to deliver high-speed, broadband connectivity. Market introduction of the flat-panel, fuselage-mounted, electronic phased array antenna is anticipated for availability in 2024, with OneWeb aviation services set to launch in 2023.
“We pride ourselves on partnering with industry leaders and specialists to ensure we can bring connectivity to the right audiences as effectively as possible,” said Neil Masterson, CEO at OneWeb. “We are delighted to partner with connectivity market leader Satcom Direct, and innovative hardware manufacturer QEST, because together we look forward to transforming the connectivity landscape for our customers. SD brings a stellar reputation as a distribution partner for OneWeb, with its maturity in the market and solid heritage around the world. SD supports the largest number of business aviation platforms globally and regularly ranks top in customer service industry surveys. This makes it an obvious partner for OneWeb as we set out to deliver robust, high-speed, low-latency, reliable and global connectivity for all aircraft.”
“Connectivity supports much more than just communications and we are investing in antenna development through our Plane Simple programme, to deliver secure, flexible, reliable solutions to a wider segment of the business and government aviation communities than ever before,” said Jim Jensen, CEO of SD. “This is a truly ground-breaking collaboration which is setting out to bring OneWeb’s powerful connectivity to a much-underserved sector of our business aviation community. We are proud to be part of such an innovative and dynamic group of companies that will change the way in which small jets, and general aviation operators, connect with the world.”
Through the SD ecosystem of hardware, software and infrastructure, owners will be supported by a single resource for connectivity acquisition and support, as well as third-party software integration capabilities via the SD Pro operating system, to enhance flight operations and safety.
“Having worked closely with SD to develop the first of the Plane Simple antennas we recognise that there is a large sector of the market that still needs powerful connectivity that guarantees excellent performance and optimal use of the satellite services,” said Dr Jörg Oppenländer, CEO of QEST Antenna Technology. “The impressive SD global customer service offering, combined with the strength of the OneWeb constellation, and our experience of developing reliable, highly advanced, antenna systems, will provide customers with ultimate connectivity efficiencies.”
QEST is already partnering with SD in developing the Plane Simple tail-mount antenna series and was integral in delivering the first Plane Simple variant on schedule. The electronic phased array antenna represents the third antenna in the SD Plane Simple antenna series.