Posted on: 06 February 2012 by Mark Howells
QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH, the supplier of the antenna panel for KuStream 1000, has introduced a low height single panel design for airborne broadband antennas operating in Ku-Band.
The single panel antenna systems are enabled to operate globally including equatorial flight routes, where until now, conventional low height single panel aircraft antennas operating near or at the equator require special encoding schemes on real broadband data rates. Implied by their low profile, the main beam of single panel antennas widens significantly when approaching the equator. This effect leads to interference with signals from satellites adjacent to the target satellite so that the receive data rate may suffer.
Prior to QEST’s new single panel design, the only practical approach to avoid signal interference was using the so-called multi-panel antenna systems. Here two or more antenna panels are operated simultaneously when the aircraft approaches the equator, thus limiting the physical effect of the antenna main beam widening to a certain extent. However, QEST claims that such multi-panel antenna systems present specific disadvantages: A reliable command of two or more combined beams within regulatory limits requires considerable technical effort and complexity, adding to the cost and weight, and raises questions about antenna system reliability – all being major criteria for airlines looking for connectivity solutions. By construction the antenna efficiency of multi-panel systems is rather low, unnecessarily increasing the overall antenna system size. Inoperative – thus useless – in higher latitudes, the additional panels are needed in a small region around the equator only. About 90% of all commercial aircraft flight routes do not touch that region, and most of the affected routes are typically crossed in a relatively short period of time.
The development of the low height single panel is based on QEST’s proprietary and field proven horn array antenna panel which is already installed on more than 200 commercial aircraft. By applying advanced antenna beam engineering to the new panel, Adjacent Satellite Interference has been reduced while preserving antenna dimensions and performance.
Antenna systems using QEST’s single panel can be operated within the global coverage area of geostationary satellites at broadband data rates with standard providing schemes. Even at the equator, the improved antenna beam shaping enables large bi-directional data volumes.
"The equatorial performance of our improved Ku-Band single panel is now comparable to far more complex multi-panel antennas,” declared Dr. Joerg Oppenlaender, CTO of QEST. “Finally, Ku-Band global broadband operations can be provided by a field-proven and most reliable antenna technology."
"The new QEST single panel has the potential of presenting significant cost savings for service providers and airlines,” added QEST’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Michael Stobinski. ”Facilitating a true global broadband connectivity offer to passengers.”