Airborne connectivity provider Satcom Direct has begun in-flight testing of its Plane Simple tail-mounted Ku-band antenna system. One year after the launch of the purpose-built unit, which is now mounted on the company’s Gulfstream G350 testbed, the next phase of testing takes it from ground assessment to aerial use to demonstrate the full performance capabilities of the unit, as well as confirm its integration with SD’s hardware, software, and supporting ground infrastructure.
Satcom Direct's new antenna, intended for super-midsize to large-cabin business jets and developed in partnership with Germany-based QEST, is the first in a planned series of Plane Simple antenna systems. As a value-added manufacturer, SD is also designing a unit that will be compatible with Iridium’s new network offering.
“The aerial validation is the next step in becoming a single-source provider of end-to-end connectivity solutions for business and government operators worldwide, which will streamline the connectivity ownership experience and customer support services,” said company founder and CEO Jim Jensen. “The start of our in-flight testing within a year of announcing the hardware expansion highlights just how committed we are to meeting these market needs.”
This phase of the testing program comes after extensive drive testing in Melbourne, Florida, using a custom mobile platform. In-flight testing is expected to conclude in the second quarter, with entry-into-service by June. Satcom Direct also plans to roll out a similar Ka-band unit next year, followed by an electronically-steered fuselage-mounted antenna to deliver connectivity through upcoming low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.
According to Jensen, the company's Ku-band system will provide customers with a broadband connectivity solution that supports enhanced aircraft data management and analytics, which are increasingly becoming a vital part of aviation.