Honeywell BendixKing’s new AeroWave 100 satcom system, introduced yesterday at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention, offers 3G-like data speeds in a system designed for installation in light aircraft, from piston twins to turboprops and light jets. AeroWave is an Inmarsat L-band satcom that offers speeds of 150 to 200 kbps, and its price of $20,000 is about a third of the cost of Honeywell’s Aspire SwiftBroadband satcom (about 400 kbps).
AeroWave is designed to bring satellite communications into the aircraft at a lower cost, so pilots can download weather information to iPads or use the system for texting and emailing and communicating with operations. Passengers will also be able to use AeroWave for most Internet functions except for streaming video. Voice over IP phone calls can also be made on AeroWave.
A low-gain antenna is key to AeroWave’s low cost and also its limited bandwidth. Larger antennas would be far more expensive and require a larger aircraft. The system is targeting usage primarily over land areas in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific; larger antennas would be required for over-ocean capability.
BendixKing will offer a monthly airtime subscription for AeroWave purchasers, which will include a specific number of usage hours, and there will be no separate data charges. Additional hours will be billed separately. Pricing wasn’t released at the AEA show, but should be in the hundreds of dollars per month range, according to Roger Dykmann, BendixKing director of product management.
The only installation constraint is the need for an engineering sign-off for adding the antenna to a pressurized fuselage. No STC is required to install AeroWave, Dykmann said, because the system is not a major alteration. While AeroWave begins shipping in about two weeks, early versions will include a separate integrated high-power/low-noise amplifier diplexer. Later versions will have the amplifier diplexer built into the low-gain antenna, so only the antenna, the 8.8-pound AeroWave transceiver and a small external software configuration module need to be installed in the aircraft. Buyers will also want to purchase a portable router, which plugs into the AeroWave via standard ethernet cable. A router with built-in Wi-Fi will allow users to connect wirelessly to AeroWave with portable devices.