Rockwell Collins has signed an MOU with OneWeb Ltd. to be the exclusive developer and provider of SATCOM terminals for OneWeb’s global aviation high-speed broadband service. Rockwell Collins will also be an authorized Value Added Reseller of OneWeb connectivity services. Under the agreement, OneWeb will team with Rockwell Collins to develop and certify the SATCOM terminals, which will utilize electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna technology developed by Rockwell Collins’ Advanced Technology Center. Using rapid beam movement and reconfigurable antenna patterns, ESA antennas provide high levels of performance to ensure that aircraft stay connected during flight.
“The antenna is a fraction of the size and weight of a traditional airborne SATCOM antenna, which means significant long-term cost savings for airlines from reduced fuel consumption,” said John Borghese, vice president, Advanced Technology Center for Rockwell Collins. “In addition, the unique design and scalability of our Ku-band ESA technology matched with the OneWeb network opens up possibilities to enable connectivity in other markets beyond aerospace.”
Given last week’s news about Rockwell Collins offering enhanced aircraft tracking, this new service appears to build on that and extract more value from the connectivity process. This much smaller antennae is bound to attract a lot of attention because airlines no longer have to be persuaded of the need for connectivity as they once were. Having better broadband capacity enhances passenger experiences its true. But the greater value by far is improved airline flight operations.
This is what the first generation antennae looked like on a Lufthansa 747-400.
By 2014, these had shrunk in height and clearly also reduced drag. This is a Panasonic antennae.
And here is what OneWeb plans on offering – the shrinkage is remarkable. Interestingly, OneWeb’s directors include the Executive Chairman of Qualcomm and Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group.
OneWeb’s system will provide business jet, commercial airline and military aviation customers with airtime services that could include weather, navigation and health monitoring of the aircraft. What we have here is a key component that drives e-Enablement.