Israel's Starling Advanced Communication is targeting operators of narrowbody aircraft for its new Ku-band antenna, Mijet-Lite, which will support high-speed connectivity services.

Development has been completed and the system is ready for flight testing. A prototype of Mijet-Lite will be unveiled next month at the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Long Beach, California, Starling VP marketing and sales Jacob Keret tells Flight's premium affiliate ATI.

He says the system is a lighter weight, lower cost version of Starling's standard Mijet antenna but larger than the mini-Mijet for business jets.

Mijet-Lite will provide about two thirds of Mijet's performance, while saving about 50% of the weight, he says.

Separately, Starling is working in partnership with EMS Technologies' Georgia-based Defence & Space Systems (D&SS) division to offer a new ultra-fast, ultra-lightweight (45lb/20kg) Ku-band airborne antenna system for the US commercial airline market.

"We are making a lot of progress with EMS on our partnership. [I can] make a good guess that EMS will announce something soon," says Keret.

Panasonic Avionics previously picked Starling as a non-exclusive antenna partner in its satellite-based connectivity system, eXConnect, but requested performance improvements to the firm's fuselage-mounted Mijet antenna as well as from other would-be suppliers. It is not yet clear whether Starling's antenna offerings are still being considered by Panasonic Avionics, which is expected to reveal further details of its solution in the near-term.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) hardware giant has been working to fill the void left by Connexion by Boeing's December 2006 closure.

"It wasn't wrong what Connexion did. They just had some problems," says

Panasonic Avionics director of strategic product marketing David Bruner, adding that the eXConnect system will be "lighter, better and have less drag".

He adds: "We didn't want to have a system that was limited to basically the geography of the United States. We wanted something that could scale better and this solution at least we believe is the right solution."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news