Phased array satellite antennas are nearly available to aircraft, after a successful demonstration of the Viasat antenna on the Cessna Citation II. The first test flight took place on April 20, during a flight from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Bayern, Switzerland.
The effort was part of the AIDAN project, which is led by Viasat Antenna Systems Switzerland and includes a group of partners including Viasat Netherlands, NLR and Lionix International. Citation II is provided by NLR and funding for the AIDAN project comes from the European Space Agency, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Viasat and other European companies.
According to the company, the Viasat Phased Array Antenna can track satellites without moving parts and electronically direct their beams to maintain communication with the satellite. While the antenna is quite large and must be installed in a suitable location above the fuselage, it can open opportunities to provide fast, broadband Ka connectivity to aircraft that cannot accommodate the mechanically mounted tail or fuselage. pneumatic.
Prior to the April 20 test flight, the antenna phased array tiles and openings were tested in an anechoic chamber, and then the antenna was fitted to a truck that was transported to ensure that the beams could correctly point to the Viasat satellites.
According to Carolina Vigiano, RF and Station Manager at Viasat Antenna Systems, several test flights were made after the first flight. “We tried to confirm the system and see how it responded,” she said. This included streaming Netflix on one laptop, making a Zoom call on another laptop, while another user uploaded a large file using a VPN, and everyone on board connected as many devices as possible.
“This core technology is the building block for connecting fixed and mobile platforms in the air, land and sea to enable the breakthrough broadband experiences that Viasat satellites will provide around the world,” said Viasat.
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