In response to the growing demand for high-speed in-flight connectivity on regional jets, ThinKom Solutions and CarlisleIT announced plans to market a fully integrated phased array Ka-band satellite antenna for these types of aircraft.
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The antenna, named ThinAir Ka1717, uses ThinKom’s existing VICTS (Variable Tilt Continuous Transverse Trunk) technology that is currently used on thousands of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. For the ThinAir Ka1717, the lightweight and unobtrusive VICTS antenna system has been adjusted to meet the specific weight and space requirements of regional jets.
According to ThinKom, the complete antenna subsystem, including antennas, solid-state power supply amplifier (SSPB), adapter plate, shroud, and radome, is 6 inches tall. and weighs less than 73 kg (160 lb). ThinKom integrated Ka Antenna Array Data Unit (KANDU) and Ka Radio Frequency Unit (KRFU) functionality inside the crown-mounted radome to accommodate cabin space limitations regional jets. The installation footprint has been optimized for the narrower fuselages of regional aircraft, supporting a back-mounted SATCOM solution with no drag penalty.
The system has low power consumption, so door-to-door operation is possible even under high thermal and solar load conditions. The Ka1717 has also been designed to meet ITU Article 22 and WRC 5G Earth Station in Motion (ESIM) requirements to ensure the system does not interfere with GEO satellites when operating on NGSO networks or with 5G terrestrial networks that share the same Ka-band spectrum.
In the next step, ThinKom and CarlisleIT are collaborating on the development and certification of a fully integrated Ka1717 package, including the radome, adapter plate, shroud, power supply, connection cables and hardware kits. installation for the regional jet market. The partners claim that the complete satcom system, including installation hardware, connecting cables and in-cab networking equipment, will weigh “comfortably below” 115 kg (250 lbs).
“Until now, it has been impossible for regional jet operators to offer their passengers the same level of in-flight connectivity experience as large passenger jets, primarily due to the size, weight and drag from existing aerodynamic antenna systems,” said Bill Milroy, CTO and President of ThinKom Solutions. “The Ka1717 meets this need with an antenna system that is the ideal form factor for regional jets, designed to operate on any Ka band constellation chosen by the customer and is based on the antenna designs ThinKom’s existing, highly reliable and efficient VICTS system is a key enabler in securing contracts with airlines under a very high level SLA.”