Maximizing more connectivity for more aircraft
Validating Satcom Direct’s Plane Simple Satcom Antenna Systems.
Chris Moore, President Business Aviation Satcom Direct, tells us why validating a new system matters.
At our annual Connecting with Customers customer appreciation event in February 2020 we announced the launch and development of a brand-new advanced technology antenna series. It is the first time that antennas have been purpose built and designed for the specific needs of the business aviation sector, by business aviators.
We are not repurposing technology from other sectors. The Plane Simple Satcom Antenna Systems will change the connectivity ownership experience by enabling streamlined purchasing decisions, seamless customer support, enhanced passenger experiences, and improved aircraft management and operations for more aircraft types.
Dual variant Plane Simple antenna
During the design process we considered the impact of weight, installation complexity, and upgrade paths, as well as the value of pressurized space in the cabin. Each of the Plane Simple Satcom Antenna Systems feature just two-Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) - the antenna, a Satcom Direct Modem and just three cables. The modem can be located in the unpressurised part of the fuselage so freeing up valuable baggage or cabin space, extremely important for small to mid-size vessels. This simplifies installation and provides a smooth and cost-effective transition path, compatible with future technology advances or changing mission requirements.
This development represents significant investment and presents us with an exciting opportunity to offer more connectivity to more aviators. This is why we are laser-focused on conducting rigorous validation exercises before we deliver the systems to our customers. Despite a global pandemic, the project remains on track.
The first of the antennas, the Plane Simple Ku-band tail mounted antenna supports the Intelsat FlexExec satellite service, for which SD holds master distributor status, and is currently undergoing flight validation. Since the start of trials on the Gulfstream G350 in early March, the antenna has performed beyond expectation demonstrating the system’s proficiency to efficiently enable true broadband experience during some 100-plus flights. We have just bolstered the exercise with the installation of the Plane Simple Ku-band tail mounted antenna on the SD Dassault Falcon 2000LX.
Dassault Falcon 2000LX
A dual platform validation phase serves to verify the benefits of integrating the new advanced technology antenna with the already proven SD ecosystem of hardware, software, and terrestrial infrastructure. Testing continues until the feedback collected from both SD platforms confirms the antenna, and associated systems, meet the specified requirements for market entry.
Ahead of in-service evaluation with early adopter customers, which is slated to begin Q3 2021, the flight testing also provides us with the opportunity to generate our first commercial Supplemental Type Certificate which will support installation for Falcon 2000 owners worldwide. In addition, the in-service validation of the fully qualified systems will provide us with larger scale, controlled data and supports subsequent STC generation on different aircraft types before the end of the year.
The aerial validation is significant as it highlights the momentum, we’ve gained in becoming a single resource providing owners and operators with access to a full connectivity eco-system. By managing the end-to-end experience from the flight-deck to the tail, we are in a much better position to make service changes, upgrade existing services, and develop individual client solutions to support customer needs so streamlining processes and saving considerable time.
We are developing the systems in partnership with Germany-based QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH, a worldwide market leader in innovative aeronautical antennas. A further two antennas, a Ka-band variant will join the family in Q3 2022, and the electronically steered, phased array fuselage mounted antenna, will join the family towards the end of 2023.
As the series rolls out, aircraft from Cessna CJ3, Pilatus PC-12, Embraer Phenom 300-size up to executive airliners will benefit from the practical applications generated by rich, multi-faceted data. Many more passengers, crew and flight department will enjoy a richer connectivity experience in the confidence that a single service provider is supporting every connectivity need.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 15th July 2021 | Issue #614
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