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  • Satellite Evolution

ThinKom and CarlisleIT to offer new Ka-Band satellite antenna solution for regional jets

ThinKom Solutions, Inc. and Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CarlisleIT) has announced plans to bring to market a new fully integrated phased-array Ka-band satellite antenna solution to meet the increasing demand for high-speed in-flight connectivity on regional jet fleets.

ThinKom’s Ka1717, the newest, most compact member of the ThinAir® phased-array family (shown roughly to scale with other models)

The ThinAir® Ka1717 uses the proven VICTS (Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub) technology that is currently in use on thousands of narrow- and wide-body aircraft. The new lightweight, low-profile VICTS antenna system has been designed to meet the specific weight and space requirements of regional jet fleets and to optimize fuel efficiency.

The complete antenna subsystem, including the antennas, solid-state power block (SSPB) amplifier, adapter plate, fairing, and radome, is six inches high and weighs under 160 pounds (73 kgs). ThinKom has integrated the Ka antenna networking data unit (KANDU) and the Ka radio frequency unit (KRFU) functionality inside the crown-mounted radome to accommodate the in-cabin space limitations of regional jets.

The system’s low power draw ensures gate-to-gate operation, even under conditions of high thermal and solar loading.

As with all of ThinKom’s VICTS antenna systems, the Ka1717 has been designed to meet the 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.

ThinKom and CarlisleIT are collaborating on development and certification of a fully integrated Ka1717 package, including the radome, adapter plate, fairing, power supply, connecting cables and installation kits for the regional jet market. The full satcom system, including installation hardware, connecting cables, and in-cabin networking equipment, will be comfortably below 250 pounds (115 kg).

“Until now, it has been impractical for regional jet operators to offer their passengers the same level of in-flight connectivity experience as larger passenger jets, mostly because of the size, weight and drag of existing aero antenna systems,” said Bill Milroy, CTO and chairman of ThinKom Solutions. “The Ka1717 addresses this need with an antenna system that is the ideal form factor for regional jets, designed to operate on any Ka-band constellation the customer chooses and is based on ThinKom’s existing, highly reliable and efficient VICTS antenna designs. This system is a key enabler to contracting with airlines to a very high service level agreement.”

Chris Rawley, CarlisleIT product line manager for connectivity, added, “The Ka1717 form factor has enabled CarlisleIT to optimize the installation footprint for the narrower fuselages of regional aircraft. This supports a dorsal mounted SATCOM solution without the typical drag penalties of larger antennas.”


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