Satcom Direct is ushering in a new era for business aviation connectivity. In February 2020, the business aviation solutions provider announced the launch of the Satcom Direct Plane Simple™ Antenna Series. One year on the project remains firmly on track to fulfill its vision of delivering reliable connectivity to a much broader range of aircraft than ever before.
New antenna coming from SD
Once the domain of the executive airliner market, SD is aiming to democratize connectivity with the move into the antenna hardware manufacturing space. Maximizing the opportunities presented by expanding LEO, NEO and GEO constellations, the Plane Simple antenna range will provide faster connectivity in smaller formats at competitive price points.
Designed specifically for the business aviation sector, the antennas feature only two Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), simplifying installation and configuration requirements while providing a seamless and cost-effective transition path as technology advances. Once the antennas launch to market, SD will support end-to-end connectivity ensuring a single point of contact to resolve any issues, make service changes or upgrade existing services.
“The addition of the Plane Simple Antenna Series to the SD offering means owners and operators can now access the full connectivity ecosystem from one company. The convenience of having a single point of contact to manage issues, support system transitions and develop individual client solutions is extremely valuable. It streamlines processes and saves considerable time,” explains Chris Moore, SD President Business Aviation.
The only High Gain Antenna supporting the Iridium Certus NEXT constellation
The first of the antennas, the SD Plane Simple Ku-band Tail Mounted Antenna is being introduced in the second quarter of 2021, and will support Intelsat’s Ku-band FlexExec satellite service, for which SD holds master distributor status. It will be joined by the SD Plane Simple Certus® Antenna in the fourth quarter to support connectivity from the Iridium NEXT constellation.
A further two antennas, The SD Plane Simple Ka-band Tail Mounted Antenna and the phased array Fuselage Mounted Antenna, will be welcomed to the family in 2022 to support a growing selection of satellite airtime providers. In addition to delivering powerful connectivity, each is being created to optimize the practical applications of rich, multi-faceted data generated by aircraft.
Leading the way for a whole new gamut of connected aircraft is the SD Plane Simple Certus Antenna which meets the stringent performance requirements specified by Iridium for the “Class H2 system.” Prototype bench testing is already in process at the SD Ottawa facility where all the company’s ground-breaking hardware is being designed and manufactured.
Upon delivery the small form factor fuselage-mounted antenna will be the industry’s first, and only, High Gain Antenna supporting the Iridium Certus NEXT constellation, and will provide an affordable option to satisfy the connectivity needs of light- to mid-size aircraft. Simple installation of two line replaceable units (LRUs) minimizes installation costs as the antenna, and the SDR® Gateway 2.0 router, which incorporates the Certus modem, is all that is needed to get connected.
Aircraft of Cessna CJ3, Pilatus PC-12, Embraer Phenom 300 size will benefit from the precision of the narrow beam delivered by the HGA. This more precise beam targeting, combined with acceleration supported by SD ground infrastructure, will transmit what seems like one-megabyte speeds to the aircraft antenna.
“The fastest L-band data speeds delivered by our innovative antenna and powered by the resilient Iridium NEXT constellation will support full routing features, integrated cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to keep aircraft connected, securely and safely around the planet,” says Moore.
Extra connectivity redundancy
For those already subscribing to SD high-speed data solutions, the consolidation of the Certus modem into the SDR Gateway 2.0 provides an extra layer of connectivity redundancy. Should regular service lapse due to atmospheric conditions or aircraft location, the back-up modem ensures immediate access to the lower speed Certus service.
Consistent global coverage is ensured, even over the poles, using the intermeshed NEXT constellation. On larger airframes, the Certus modem can also act as a back-up relieving the high-speed solutions of the need to support flight deck communications or transmit aircraft performance data. This relinquishes the high-speed broadband services to support seamless connectivity optimized by the principals and passengers.
Sitting behind the technical developments is the long and strong relationship SD has with Iridium. SD owns COMSAT which is the exclusive service provider for the United States’ Air Force Space Command’s (AFSPACE) Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program.
As a Value-Added Manufacturer (VAM) and service provider (SP) for Iridium Certus, the latest antenna development is a natural evolution for the SD business, and a major revolution in terms of business aviation connectivity accessibility and affordability.