Electronically steered antennae (ESAs) are coming to commercial and business aviation. But not everyone is in a hurry to get there. Two companies with ESA products on their roadmap took a step back focusing on existing, proven technology platforms instead.
Middle Earth Orbit
The SES-17 satellite successfully launched into space onboard an Ariane 5 launcher operated by Arianespace. It is expected to enter service in mid-2022.
The product will still be known at 2Ku, at least for now. But the in-flight connectivity company previously known as Gogo Commercial Aviation officially changed its name to Intelsat Commercial Aviation, less than a year after closing on the transaction.
The Viasat Ka-band solid-state, fully-electronic phased array flat panel antenna is ready to begin the final stages of testing on the SES O3b mPOWER constellation. The system entered the Test Readiness Review (TRR) stage of the program. TRR is the final stage of testing to verify compliance with the antenna’s performance requirements.
Viasat reported its annual results Tuesday afternoon with record revenue. The company also announced a couple surprises, with a new wide-body airline customer for its inflight connectivity solution and a change of plans for its future satellite constellation.
United’s newest aircraft type takes flight this week and the CRJ550 interior really is as special as the company has been hyping. Airbus orders and Boeing delays plus some fancy new wifi and upgraded airports on the horizon. Another busy PaxEx week.
Blending GEO and MEO satellites delivers a hybrid of coverage, performance, and cost that is hard to beat. SES, Thales, HughesNet, and Thinkom are on the cusp of delivering a commercially-viable solution in this space.
The inflight connectivity community has suffered from years of disappointment as promise after promise from manufacturers failed to yield electronically steered phased array (ESAs) antennae for commercial aircraft. Phasor and others appeared poised to break that streak, with the news at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg more optimistic than not. An update from one inflight connectivity provider this week calls some of that optimism into question, however.
Inmarsat secured a new way into space. The company signed on with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the first commercial customer for the H3 launch vehicle. The launch is expected in 2022(ish).
Low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations promise higher capacity and lower latency for connections. They also bring significant challenges, mostly owing to far more frequent satellite switching to maintain a connection. Add in an airplane moving though the sky and the complexity increases further. Multiple vendors are now moving through the testing process, with plans to deliver functional solutions as early as 2019, well ahead of the satellite constellations being ready for such connections.