Fototerra is upgrading its special missions Embraer EMB-110 aircraft, pictured here, with Satcom Direct's Plane Simple Ku-band antenna system. (Photo courtesy of Satcom Direct)
Fototerra, the Texas-based special missions fleet operator, is upgrading the antenna featured on its Embraer EMB-110 aircraft that specialize in flying geographic data capture missions for Brazilian oil and gas companies. The antenna currently featured on the EMB-110 will be replaced with the Satcom Direct (SD) Plane Simple antenna—a Ku-band system first launched on several Gulfstream aircraft models earlier this year—according to an announcement made by the company at the Latin American Business Conference and Exhibition (LABACE) occurring in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this week.
Satcom Direct has partnered with Pro Aero, Brazil’s largest civil aviation certification company, and Jazz Engenharia Aeronáutica, a Brazilian aircraft maintenance provider and re-seller of SD's technologies. Fototerra's modification of the EMB-110 will also mark the first installation and operation of the new Plane Simple antenna on a special mission aircraft after its debut on an unnamed Gulfstream operator earlier this year.
Jazz Sales Director, Felipe Nardi, commenting on the upgrade, said Plane Simple will "replace current micro-wave technology which Fototerra uses to monitor the maritime coast on behalf of the oil and gas industry. The existing technology requires Fototerra to stay near the coastline to communicate images effectively. Once we’ve installed the terminal, this limitation will be removed."
Upon replacing the EMB-110’s existing antenna system, the modification will attach the 12-inch Plane Simple antenna to the top of the twin-turboprop in the center of the aircraft's fuselage. Separately, a modem, the second of the Plane Simple system’s two line replaceable units (LRUs), will be installed inside the aircraft cabin.
The Plane Simple Ku-band tail mount antenna was confirmed qualified for Ku-band service activation by Intelsat in January. (Photo courtesy of Satcom Direct)
“Most of the antenna systems available for business jets today have four to five LRUs and are variants of systems developed for airliners that have been aligned to business jets,” Satcom Direct President Chris Moore said, during an interview with Avionics International about the new antenna system earlier this year.
Connecting the special missions flights operated by Fototerra's EMB-110 to Intelsat's FlexExec Ku-band satellite network will provide enough bandwidth for the aircraft to transmit “hyperspectral images, lidar data, radar data, and infrared, ultraviolet, thermal, and fluorescence techniques” in real-time to Fototerra’s servers and on to their customers as requested.
“We have been waiting for this capability for a long time and are enthusiastic about completing missions with the technology in place," Gulherme Pinho, CEO of Fototerra, said in a statement commenting on the Plane Simple upgrade.
Jazz Engenharia Aeronáutica, the Brazilian MRO provider, is completing the upgrade of the Plane Simple antenna on the aircraft now and expects to re-deliver the upgraded EMB-110 to Fototerra by the end of next month.