Cobham is expecting its developmental Aviator-S satellite communications (SATCOM) terminal to enter flight testing with Airbus in June/July, with completion in early 2020.

The next-generation system addresses shortfalls in existing systems, including bandwidth constraints that can slow data transmission.

The system is a ninth of the size of legacy systems, does not radiate as much heat, and allows for more flexible installation due to the cabling, which is highly efficient. This means different parts of the system can be placed some 100m apart, and optimal positioning for line of sight can be achieved.

It includes a system dubbed “Helga”, which consists of the antenna, high power amplifier and diplexer/low noise amplifier, as well as a separate complex satellite data unit.

As well as Airbus, Boeing has signed a technical services agreement with Cobham to certify the system for use on board its aircraft, so both OEMs will move towards integrating the Aviator-S in coming years.

“They are designing suites around the upcoming introduction of this,” says Willem Kasselman, vice-president of SATCOM marketing, sales and service. “We’re probably ahead of the market.”

Reliable communications throughout a flight allow for better planning, so that delays – such as aircraft having to enter holding patterns when they approach the airport – can be avoided, Kasselman adds.

“Some of the most horrific air accidents have been because of failings in communication. It is no longer the case that you can have a blind aircraft for ten minutes.”

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Source: Flight Daily News