As multiple vendors vie for a slice of the regional jet connectivity refresh in the North America Orbit Communication Systems is taking an arguably more well-rounded approach. The company is now pitching its AirTRx family of parabolic antennae as “the ultimate solution for regional jets, where space is limited.”
The kit is lighter than competing products. The 12″ model weighs in at just 22 pounds. It also has a relatively low power draw. Orbit spec’s it as delivering a 140 Mbps+ forward link and a 40 Mbps+ return link.
But in an era where most are pitching solutions ever more flat atop the aircraft, the AirTRx is a parabolic dish.
Orbit’s VP of Products and Solutions Lior Rudminsky acknowledges that in a fuselage mount configuration the radome bump is slightly taller than existing designs, while calling attention to the lighter weight of the AirTRx system that helps offset that bit. Perhaps more importantly, however, he suggests that its compact size makes it an ideal tail-mount option, particularly on the CRJ family of aircraft. “It gives airlines the right reliability, the data rates that they’re looking for…and can be installed especially efficiently in tail mounts.”
Read more: [EBACE18] Technik’s home-grown TIOS+ triband radome set to fly on a 737 MAX BBJ
“We are paying a lot of attention to save on the space segment,” Rudminsky continued, noting that the system maintains its efficiency as look angle drops, another function of the parabolic dish design. He also highlighted two key issues ESAs are frequently challenged by, “In terms of power consumption and weight, we see ESAs as a really good buzzword, but still many challenges.”
The Ka-band system has the advantage of already being in service on smaller aircraft in business aviation, connected to the Inmarsat GX Aviation network. That partner experience makes the go-to-market strategy a bit easier to execute. That said, other vendors also have antennae options that are of similar size, and none of those are trying to make them work in the commercial areo market. That makes Orbit something of an outlier.
Orbit is far from alone in seeking to secure customers in the regional jet market. Intelsat recently snagged the first upgrade contract, signing Alaska Airlines on for a GEO/LEO hybrid solution, fed by the Ball Aerospace/Stellar Blu ESA. ThinKom wants to see its new Ka1717 option secure some of the business as well. Starlink has also secured a foothold in the RJ market, activating its services with JSX.
Contract awards from the larger North American carriers are expected any day now, though that has been the case for several months.
More news from SATShow 2023
- Removing inflight connectivity friction, and maybe creating another problem along the way
- Astronics plans Ka-band antenna program for 777s
- ThinKom sees ESA integration as a Plus for connectivity hardware
- Orbit makes antenna play for the regional jet IFC market
- CesiumAstro brings Ka-band ESA to life; Airbus trials planned
- Hanwha sets stage for aero ESA trials later this year
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