Satcom Direct’s Antenna System Is Nearing Service

Satcom Direct’s Plane Simple Ku-band tail-mount antenna
Satcom Direct’s Plane Simple Ku-band tail-mount antenna has been qualified for Intelsat’s FlexExec service.
Credit: Satcom Direct

Satcom Direct (SD) says its Plane Simple antenna systems designed for business aircraft have successfully connected with Inmarsat Ka- and Intelsat Ku-band satellite networks, bringing them closer to commercial introduction.

During its Connecting with Customers event Feb. 15 in Orlando, SD announced that its tail-mounted Plane Simple Ka-band Antenna System for super-midsize-to-large business jets has communicated over the air with an Inmarsat Jet ConneX service satellite. The company expects to complete a prototype of the satcom terminal later in 2022, followed by design verification, testing, certification and entry into service in 2023.

Honeywell also builds a tail-mount antenna, modem and router for business aircraft, as well as a fuselage-mount system for airliners, that accesses Inmarsat’s JetConneX inflight broadband service.

On Jan. 31, SD said it had qualified its Plane Simple Ku-band Antenna System on the Intelsat FlexExec network. The company expects the Ku-band system will be available for installation in summer 2022.

The verification followed months of testing and optimization by both companies, “confirming that the first network-integrated SD Plane Simple terminal, designed exclusively for business aviation, is fully compatible with the world’s first dedicated network capacity for business aviation—the Intelsat FlexExec service.” 

Luxembourg-based Intelsat has administrative headquarters in McLean, Virginia. The company lists the SD Direct Plane Simple system and the Astronics T-310 Tail Mount system as FlexExec qualified terminals.

A Plane Simple Antenna System shipset consists of a 12-in.-diameter, mechanically steered, tail-mounted antenna and SD Modem Unit. SD’s facility in Ottawa, Canada, builds the modems; partner QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme of Germany, provides the antenna aperture. SD has conducted flight tests of the satcom terminal on its Gulfstream G350 and Dassault Falcon 2000LX aircraft.  

“We are building on our partnership [with SD] to ensure customers can utilize the world-class infrastructure we have in place today and the game-changing new capabilities we will introduce in the coming years” Inmarsat head of business aviation Kai Tang said. 

“This includes the launch of six further satellites, consisting of four in geostationary orbit—adding speed, capacity and resilience—and two in highly elliptical orbit, enabling the world’s only commercial mobile broadband service for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.”

As a value-added manufacturer and service provider for Iridium Communications, SD is also developing a Plane Simple satcom terminal consisting of an SDR Gateway 2.0 modem/router and fuselage-mounted high-gain antenna for Iridium’s high-speed Certus L-band service. Plans call for the Certus terminal to be available in 2022.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.