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Ka-band Technology Speeds In-flight Connectivity

April 24, 2015
Expectations are that a new flat-panel, Ka-band antenna will help produce faster connectivity within commercial aircraft and business jets.

Long gone are the days when pilots urged passengers to turn off their devices. Now companies are working toward bringing faster connectivity and higher-quality broadband service to aircrafts. Kymeta and Honeywell Aerospace are developing and testing a new antenna that will bring Ka-band wireless services to commercial aircraft and business jets. The flat-panel design is light and reduces drag, helping to reduce overall costs.

Kymeta will deliver its mTenna antenna products to Honeywell, which will then test and integrate the antenna into its JetWave aviation product line. The line of satellite communications hardware exclusively supports Inmarsat’s GX Aviation service. Driving the mTenna is a combination of electromagnetic metamaterial technology, which uses a holographic approach to steer and lock satellite beams without moving parts, and thin-film-transistor (TFT) LCD technology for a scalable solution.

According to Kymeta, “The direction of the beam is defined by the specific elements that are electronically activated—a design that allows for both continual and instantaneous changes in direction.” This is made possible by the suite of tunable elements placed in a precise, calculated pattern. The antenna is just part of the companies’ goals to bring faster in-flight connectivity to passengers and pilots.

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