After teasing the details a bit in March, ThinKom formally launched its ThinAir Plus product line at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023, integrating an ESA into the footprint of its Ka2517 solution. The system touts multi-constellation, multi-orbit, multi-beam connectivity support. The ThinAir Plus terminal is also the first to offer concurrent, multi-band connectivity in a single package.
We’re providing an agnostic solution that delivers connectivity from every orbit to every seat. With the Plus architecture we’re able to add next-generation benefits on top of our existing, high-performance antenna. – Bill Milroy, ThinKom’s CTO
Ultimately ThinKom wants to fuse the high-capacity available in GEO with a low-latency LEO experience where that is needed. Traffic routing will be managed off-appliance, however. That work will be left to the integrator.
And because there are effectively two antennae operating under the radome concurrently, the ThinKom Plus system can deliver both GEO and NGSO links at the same time rather than switching between the orbits. “It is not a switchable beam,” Milroy explains. “You can be on LEO and on GEO and you could pass traffic across both for a sustained period of time.”
Equally as critical as adding the additional connection is making sure the system does not grow too large or expensive. The overall footprint lengthens a few inches to account for the ESA under the radome. And Milroy suggests that the longer radome might actually improve aerodynamics slightly.
As for cost, the company emphasizes that the solution would be fully integrated, including modem and GPS. “We think it is probably in the order of $50,000 extra,” Milroy suggested. “Remember, it already has a modem in it. It is already under the same radome, so you get double credit for that.” And while keeping the cost lower is important, so is the value-add from the additional connection.
The company expects the hardware to be qualified and ready for STC integration at the end of 2024.
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