Connectivity

Iridium Certus Data Transmission First Achieved by Collins Aerospace

Collins Aerospace recently completed its first data transmission using Iridium Certus, enabled by a new active low gain antenna. (Collins Aerospace)

Collins Aerospace has completed the first data transmission to an orbiting Iridium satellite using Certus, enabled by a new satellite communications system the company is developing.

Certus is Iridium’s multi-service communications platform designed to provide safety services communications, including two voice channels and aircraft communications and reporting system network data link connectivity. Collins Aerospace is one of several value added manufacturers (VAMs) working on the development of Certus terminals, including new satellite connectivity technology that will become available to operators by 2022.

The transmission was the “first successful airborne equipment transmission of this type over the upgraded Iridium constellation’s L-band broadband service,” according to Collins. Along with a new Active Low Gain Antenna (ALGA), the transmission was enabled by a Satcom Data Unit (SDU) and SDU Configuration Module (SCM).

“Depending on the operator's bandwidth requirements, either a low gain or high gain antenna can be included, providing L-band bandwidth to 176 kilobits per second (kbps) or 704 kbps, respectively,” the company said in a statement.

The data transmission marks the latest Iridium Certus technology development milestone for the company, after first confirming in Jan. 2019 it would be developing terminals for the Boeing 737 MAX and the 777X.

"This significant achievement marks our progress in bringing our customers an even faster, seamless SATCOM experience," said Nate Boelkins, vice president and general manager for Commercial Avionics for Collins Aerospace.

Iridium is also using Certus to enable data and voice communications for aviation, maritime and other mobility applications in two different configurations, including a lower speed 352 kbps connection and a higher speed 704 kbps version. Progressively, terminal speeds are expected to reach 1.4 mbps, using software featured on the new Iridium Next satellites.

“We are making progress on delivering Iridium Certus aviation products in 2021 and 2022,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said during the company’s second quarter earnings call. “Our first terminal partners has started to test their products on our network and we’re making progress on the regulatory front towards FAA certification for safety services on Iridium Certus to complement our existing legacy safety products. We remain excited about the aviation segment and its future contribution to broadband revenues in the coming years.”

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