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Israel’s Gilat to develop Electronically-Steerable Antenna for in-flight connectivity for Airbus Technology Demonstrator

Photograph courtesy of Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd.

Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd., a worldwide leader in satellite networking technology, solutions and services, announced today a joint development project with Airbus for an European Space Agency (ESA) In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) antenna funded by Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking (CS2JU), as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program.

The fully embedded airborne antenna technology will be demonstrated inflight on an Airbus Technology Demonstrator based on the C295 aircraft to support the Clean Sky 2 (CS2) objective for more efficient and greener transport.

Gilat was selected to develop a Ka-band ESA terminal based on its Phased Array Antenna (PAA) expertise. The antenna array will be embedded into the wing structure of the airframe including the amplification and radiating elements. The development will include the design, prototyping, manufacturing, and testing “on ground” and “in-flight” of the airborne terminal in collaboration with Airbus.

Airbus is a partner in the CS2JU supporting technology development for the benefit of society to deliver a more sustainable, greener aviation transportation.
Gilat will develop the embedded antenna in coordination with Airbus to demonstrate a full satellite communication airborne link without impact on the aircraft performance. The Gilat ESA aero terminal will be installed into the Airbus Technology Demonstrator for inflight validation tests planned to be carried out in Seville, Spain using a Ka-Satellite with EU coverage.

The phased array technology of the ESA IFC antenna allows high integration and embedding of the antenna into the airframe structure, more specifically, as part of the panel fairing, which connects the aircraft wing to the fuselage. The original panels will be replaced by new composite structures with embedded phased array antenna elements, thus eliminating any protruding components. This solution adds the IFC capabilities without affecting aircraft performance and maneuverability by avoiding aerodynamic drag and reducing fuel consumption. The embedded antenna will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions thus supporting one of the key societal challenges, smart, green and integrated transport.

“Gilat is proud that its ESA/PAA technology was selected as the leading de-facto electronically steered antenna solution, for an aeronautical application. The selection by the EC gives us the opportunity to join forces with Airbus, a leading airframe provider, to collaborate on the future development of IFC. The technology will support high IFC data rates and its scalable nature supports customization for various aircraft types,” said Michael (Miki) Barak, RVP Commercial Aviation & Mobility, at Gilat. “Due to its fast electronically steerable beam capabilities, the solution is suitable for IFC utilizing GEO, MEO and future LEO satellite constellations.”

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