Collins Aerospace has unveiled a high-speed satellite communications (SATCOM) system for business jet cabins utilizing the Iridium Certus 700 broadband satellite service.
The Collins Aerospace IRT NX SATCOM system is aimed at enabling global coverage for cabin connectivity for business jets of various sizes. Bombardier, which in May announced that all Challenger 3500 aircraft will be equipped with Iridium Certus connectivity as a baseline feature, will serve as the launch customer for the IRT NX system. The Collins system will begin being installed on Bombardier business jets during aircraft production in the second half of 2023, and also will be available for upgrading in-service Bombardier business jets.
Collins Marketing Manager-Business Aviation Olivier Durand told Avionics International that the company worked closely with Iridium in developing the new SATCOM system. “In order to come with a fully operational solution, close collaboration with a satellite network provider is essential both for the development of the hardware and the activation and testing of the service,” he explained. “Collins and Iridium have been working hand-in-hand to achieve that in time for the launch customer roll-out.”
Collins has characterized the system as “enabling real-time access to news, productivity and voice calls over IP, matching passengers’ demand for seamless connectivity.”
The Iridium Certus platform uses Iridium’s constellation of 66 “cross-linked” satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), providing global connectivity.
“Our solution will enable current non-equipped aircraft to offer inflight productivity and connectivity to passengers with office-like on-ground connectivity,” Durand said. “The IRT NX SATCOM system enables data rates up to 704 Kbps, allowing passengers to benefit from reliable in-flight internet browsing capabilities, as well as email, instant messaging, and voice calls over IP, regardless of their terminal’s geolocation.”
He noted that “the small form factor of the antenna makes this solution available to a large range of plane sizes as a main solution for cabin internet connectivity or as a backup of a higher-speed solution.”
Iridium Executive VP Bryan Hartin said the Collins IRT NX system “turbocharges” inflight connectivity offerings. “The lightweight, low-cost, truly global IRT NX is going to be incredibly beneficial to aviators no matter where they fly,” he explained.
Durand said Collins is seeking additional customers for the system. “We are also working on other OEM platforms as there is significant interest from operators of various airplane types and models,” he explained.
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