Lowering the cost of multimedia services for airlines

Wednesday, 17 December, 2003


British company ERA Technology has received a grant from the UK Department of Trade and Industry under its Aeronautics Research Program to help fund research into new communications technology for the aerospace industry.

The new technology is expected to see widespread deployment on commercial airliners and will give individual passengers access to a selection of live TV channels, the Internet, telephone links and email. In addition, it is also able to provide operational communications with global coverage. Satellite communications will enhance operational management, enable airlines and controllers to keep track of aircraft and generally improve aviation safety.

The consortium will study the application of novel antenna technology based around a unique concept being developed by ERA. The new approach has the low profile of very expensive phased array technology but can be made at a cost similar to a mechanically steered reflector. The major disadvantage of steered reflectors is that they can cause high fuel penalties through increased drag - ERA's new antenna technology has negligible fuel penalties.

The research program's objectives include deriving new and innovative configurations for the technology which overcome all the critical technical and environmental challenges associated with using it in a commercial aerospace application. The programme will last for two years. At its conclusion, ERA, Thales Avionics and Chelton Electrostatics are all intending to make products available based on the technology.

Item provided courtesy of ERA Technology

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