Airlines are continuously evaluating their connectivity options while closely looking out for cost. One component is both weight and drag that is inflicted by standard, mechanical broadband antennas used for satellite communication. QEST, a German based company focusing on only aircraft antennas, anticipates its advanced flat phased array antenna that can be steered electronically will be ready to be introduced to the market by the beginning of next year.
During the 2018 Satellite show held this past March in Washington, Joerg Oppenlaender, Chief Technical Officer at QEST, emphasized that the company produced and designed the ESA solely for aviation. The company held a focus on constructing performance and efficiency when designing the device. This focus means working inside tight size, weight and power limits, and also reaching high performance standards amongst difficult aviation conditions.
According to Oppenlaender, the new device by QEST will have the ability to handle Ku (12-18 GHz), K (18-27 GHz) and Ka bands (27-40 GHz). He explains that QEST was able to minimize size and cut down weight dramatically by producing an efficient connector antenna with solely aviation in mind. QEST’s ESA emits eighty percent of input power versus the thirty percent for a competitive ESA.
QEST already has two-thousand mechanical antennas up in the air. The average time between failures thus far has been approximately one million flight hours. QEST’s chief technical officer shares the company’s goal of targeting 100,000 MTBF for their ESA. Because QEST’s ESA is small and flat, it will not be compatible with near trans-polar routes unless low-earth orbiting constellations are established. This may be a possibility in 5 years.