How important is hardware certification for an in-flight connectivity antenna manufacturer? At ESA upstart NXTCOMM the newly hired VP of Aero Structures and Certification will report directly to the CEO to help ensure that the program faces as few internal challenges as possible.
The logistics of getting customer aircraft fleets installed rapidly requires every aspect to be done efficiently and quickly while working collaboratively with our MRO partners. I’m most excited to work for an agile, result-oriented company with the emphasis on customer success.– Incoming VP Aero Structures & Certification David Kozlowski
David Kozlowski will fill that role for NXTCOMM, with responsibility for overseeing installation, testing and certification of NXTCOMM’s AeroMax® antenna on commercial aircraft. Kozlowski has four decades of experience in aircraft maintenance and modification. He most recently worked at Panasonic Avionics. While at PAC Kozlowski oversaw successful Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approvals for Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite (GCS) inflight connectivity systems on Boeing and Airbus commercial and VIP aircraft.
Also joining NXTCOMM is Rob Davies in the role of Director, Product Engineering. Davies will oversee the software development and testing of NXTCOMM’s line of electronically steerable antennas, as well as guide efforts to enhance the manufacturability of the panel. Davies previously worked at satellite antenna provider Intellian Technologies. “I love taking technology from a concept to a product. My focus is to get NXTCOMM’s antennas to a consumer level at an affordable price with good quality,” Davies says.
NXTCOMM recently announced a partnership with Eutelsat to demonstrate its electronically steered antenna and expects to accelerate manufacturing early in 2021. That will help drive the testing phase of the program, expected to run on the ground for at least a year. And if things go to plan a Ka-band version of the product will follow the current Ku-band model, lagging about 9-12 months behind.
Ticking all the boxes
The company is optimistic about hitting its targets of delivering an aircraft-tested solution to market in the coming years, with price and power details that will meet airlines’ needs. Chief Commercial Officer Steve Newell recently spoke with PaxEx.Aero about the efforts to meet power consumption, size, cost, and reliability targets.
Cost is “mostly figured out,” he explains, acknowledging that everyone always wants it cheaper and that there is a “slight premium” to be paid for a system that satisfies the GEO requirements of today with full forward compatibility to LEO of the future. While some gimballed antenna solutions claim success in navigating those satellite switches he is confident that ESAs will eventually win that battle.
Size is similarly not an issue, with the kit fitting in the ARINC 791 mount footprint. And the solid state hardware should be plenty reliable.
The half measure for NXTCOMM is on the power consumption front. Newell still wants to see the overall draw come down, but believes the market is ready to move forward at the levels NXTCOMM expects to draw:
It’s a lesser issue for us because we don’t we don’t exceed expectations previously set by folks who have yet to deliver. So that part is stunningly okay. When we give our numbers out they’re like ‘Oh, that’s less than so and so’ and you’re like, ‘I guess that’s good.’ It doesn’t feel good to me because it still seems like it’s a big number, like it’s an outsize power requirement for commercial aircraft. But, at the same time, it’s less than what the guy before me said, so it’s okay.”
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