Growing in impact every day, the Seamless Air Alliance’s Architecture/Interoperability group — chaired by Airbus and Boeing — has assessed the satellite-based aero antenna market and recognized four antenna types:
Type 1 is GEO-only; Type 2 is LEO-only; Type 3 is hybrid with limited GEO coverage; and, Type 4 is hybrid with full GEO coverage.
Seamless executives tell Runway Girl Network that ThinKom Solutions’ Ka2517 VICTS antenna (and indeed the broader VICTS line including Ku3030, branded by Intelsat as 2Ku) plus Get SAT’s dual-beam AeroLesa phased array antenna are rated Type 4 by the alliance.
Both of these multi-orbit-capable antennas, Ka2517 and AeroLesa, are part of Airbus’ HBCplus supplier-furnished IFC programme and are being incorporated into terminals produced by Safran Passenger Innovations (SPI), with the Ka-band terminal arriving line-fit on new Airbus aircraft in 2024 (Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines are initial customers) and the Ku hardware in 2026.
Retrofit packages of these Airbus offerings will also be available.
ThinKom’s Ka2517 is already a popular piece of hardware on the market, supporting a variety of IFC services — from Inmarsat-now-Viasat’s nextgen Global Xpress service to Thales’ FlytLIVE service.
Get SAT’s large AeroLesa electronically steered antenna, meanwhile, is relatively new, but “appears to have adequate GEO scan range and performance”, says Seamless chief consultant Peter Lemme, also known as the “satcom guru” in industry. Thus, it too is rated Type 4.
Viasat and SES are managed service providers (MSPs) on the Ka side of the HBCplus programme, whilst Intelsat and Panasonic Avionics are MSPs on the Ku-band side. This structure enables participating airlines to switch bandwidth suppliers within their chosen band without changing the linefit IFC hardware on their aircraft.
To create a more generic solution, Airbus, “I think rightly decided to pursue a more Type 4 solution. So that was exciting,” Lemme tells RGN.
Will Seamless’ new rating system materially impact decisions in the retrofit market? For instance, will Type 4-rated solutions have an edge over Type 3?
One thing is clear: Airbus, a founding member of Seamless, and SPI have made some rather conscious choices for HBCplus, which uncouples the MSP from the hardware on the linefit front, in a disruptive move.
- Safran sits pretty as Airbus breaks vertical integration of IFC
- Key attribute of Stellar Blu ESA package could ease Boeing linefit
- Airbus adds Intelsat and Panasonic as MSPs for supplier-furnished IFC
- ThinKom Ka2517 in the home stretch for Boeing linefit offerability
- Software-defined aero modem in the spotlight as Intelsat mulls MEO
- Intelsat and Panasonic benefit as Airbus expands HBCplus
- Airbus and Boeing drive IFC interoperability via Seamless Air Alliance
- Airbus HBCplus could accelerate adoption of free Wi-Fi model: Safran
Featured image credited to Airbus