Now that more aircraft that fly internationally are being equipped with satellite communications systems, the operators of these aircraft need to understand that some countries impose limitations on where these satcom systems can be used. In some cases, operators might be surprised to learn that their satcom isn’t permitted to be used on the ground in certain locations.
The majority of countries allow airborne satcom systems to be used only in the air, according to Satcom Direct director of customer support operations Gerry Connell. “There are a handful that have no regulations like the U.S.,” he said, and these include Canada, the UK and Australia.
The way the satcom installation prevents ground operation in one of the proscribed countries is by muting the transmit function on the ground. After takeoff when the landing gear is retracted, the weight-on-wheels switch or sensor enables satcom transmissions. Some countries even require that the aircraft be above certain altitudes before transmitting.
Satcom Direct helps customers understand the country limitations in a service information letter that outlines Inmarsat restrictions. These restrictions are not tied to a particular satcom band, a Honeywell spokesman explained. “All bands are impacted by each country’s policies.” When installing a satcom system and providing the connectivity service, the value-added reseller or service provider is responsible for complying with each country’s regulations.