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AIX: Astronics gains STC for new satcom antenna system

US manufacturer Astronics has received supplemental type certificate for its latest satellite antenna and “AeroShield” radome to provide passenger connectivity on Boeing 737NGs.

Matthew Harrah, president of the Astronics’s AeroSat division, says the STC covers 737-800s and -900s, and that a similar approval is expected for Airbus A320-family jets in July.

Previous versions of the equipment have been available for 737s, 747s, 757s, 767s, 777s and A330s, but not for the European airframer’s single-aisle family.

Harrah says the AeroShield radome reduces drag by 70% compared with “traditional” designs.

While the attachment area and points with the fuselage for such antennae is standardised, the manufacturer’s engineers were able to reduce drag through improved aerodynamic design, says Harrah.

AeroShield is available for retrofit to replace “high drag” radomes, Astronics says.

The entire assembly comprising the antenna, composite radome and aluminium adapter plate – which is mounted on top of the fuselage as a base for the exterior components – weighs “almost 100lb” (45kg) less than previous systems, says Harrah.

Meanwhile, he adds, the performance of the Ku-band antenna has been “dramatically” improved to provider higher transmission bandwidth and speed.

Approvals for aircraft beyond the 737 and A320-family are planned.

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