When conventional low height single panel aircraft antennas are operated near or at the equator, real broadband data rates require special encoding schemes. 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.
Until present the only practical approach to that issue seemed to be the use of 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 antenna main beam widening to a certain extent. However, 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. This adds 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. Altogether, multi-panel antenna systems don’t seem to offer balanced economic solutions for commercial aircraft applications.
Based on its advanced technologies and its extensive experience in the field of satellite antennas for commercial aircraft, QEST has now succeeded in designing a low height single panel that significantly reduces Adjacent Satellite Interference also for large geographical skew angles, i.e. for the regions at and around the equator.
The basis for that is QEST’s proprietary and field proven horn array antenna panel which is already installed on more than 200 commercial aircraft today. Despite its small size (60cm x 16cm only), this single panel solution offers superior performance in both transmit and receive operations. By applying advanced antenna beam engineering to the new panel, Adjacent Satellite Interference has been reduced significantly while preserving antenna dimensions and performance.
Antenna systems using QEST’s novel 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 advantages of single panel antenna systems with respect to robustness, reliability and costs are now also fully available in equatorial regions.
"Based on QEST's advanced antenna technology we have achieved another breakthrough in the field of aeronautical broadband antennas", comments Dr. Joerg Oppenlaender, CTO of QEST. "The equatorial performance of our improved Ku-Band single panel is now comparable to far more complex multi-panel antennas. Finally, Ku-Band global broadband op-erations can be provided by a field-proven and most reliable antenna technology." And he adds: "Of course, QEST will be using similar technologies for its Ka-Band single panels which will reach prototype testing phase very soon".
"The new QEST single panel has the potential of presenting significant cost savings for service providers and airlines”, supplements Michael Stobinski, QEST's Director of Sales and Marketing, "facilitating a true global broadband connectivity offer to passengers.”
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