ThinKom Solutions’ Ku3030 aero satellite antennas have now been installed on more than 1,550 commercial aircraft and accumulated in excess of 17 million flight hours. The Ku3030 is the core antenna subsystem used by Gogo’s 2Ku inflight connectivity (IFC) solutions.
ThinKom added that the antennas, which use its VICTS flat-panel phased array technology, have achieved in excess of 100,000 hours mean-time-before-failure (MTBF) while supporting 98% end-to-end system availability. The company reported that the antennas have recently completed successful line-fit qualification testing by major airframe manufacturers.
“While we’re proud of our impressive record of best-in-class performance and reliability metrics for our patented VICTS antenna technology to date, we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Bill Milroy, chief technology officer at ThinKom Solutions. “We continue making operational software enhancements to further improve reliability and the network efficiency of our systems.”
Millroy added that the software updates can easily be uploaded to existing aircraft installations.
ThinKom’s Ka-band connectivity antennas, using the same VICTS technology, are now in production. The Ka2517 antennas are fully operational on a fleet of US government aircraft and are nearing introduction on several commercial airline fleets. Multiple STCs are in process and are expected to be awarded in 2020.
ThinKom said it has worked closely with Gogo to develop a process to convert 2Ku systems to Ka-band during an overnight service.
“We’re looking to a future that will be characterised by multiple frequency bands and satellite constellations, and we’re actively working to ensure our IFC solutions provide the required rapid switching speeds and agility to track and switch seamlessly and reliably between beams, satellites and constellations,” said Milroy. “The ability of ThinKom’s VICTS antennas to effectively operate between satellite networks is the key enabler for IFC systems being able to operate globally and benefit from the lowest latency available.”
In recent months, ThinKom’s Ku- and Ka-band IFC antennas completed multiple ground and inflight tests demonstrating interoperability across low-Earth orbit (LEO), medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and high-throughput geostationary (GEO) satellite constellations. The live on-air testbeds included OneWeb LEO, Telesat LEO 1 and SES’ GEO and O3b MEO satellites.
ThinKom said its antennas met or exceeded all test parameters, including spectral efficiency, data throughput rates, beam agility, switching speeds, ASI interference, low-angle tracking and inter-constellation roaming.
The company has also confirmed that its antennas comply with the latest international regulatory requirements, including ITU Article 22, which restricts NGSO terminal emissions to GEO satellites, and the new WRC-19 ESIM rules to protect terrestrial 5G networks operating in the Ka-band from interference emitted by airborne satellite terminals.