Antennas of the Future

Our CTO, Bill Milroy, is quoted in the Global Connected Aircraft Summit article on how antennas are evolving.

“We’ve seen the expectations of the airlines and their customers steadily evolve from general satisfaction with the ‘older’ lower data rate ‘closed’ regional solutions of the not-too-distant past to the ‘newer’ higher data rate ‘open’ global connectivity passenger demands of today, ” says Bill Milroy, CTO of ThinKom, manufacturer of Gogo’s 2Ku antenna. “From an antenna-centric viewpoint, this necessarily drives us to smaller higher-efficiency, multi-band/multi-purpose antennas which can globally support higher data rates (to keep paying passengers satisfied) and do so more economically (to keep IFEC service providers’ satellite bandwidth costs affordable).”

“For aeronautical antennas, I’d have to say that conventional Numerical Control (NC) machining, stamping, casting, and extruding are still the norm, but we can certainly see additive-manufacturing playing a more important role going forward, either for fabrication of subassemblies or (in some cases) entire antennas, ” adds Milroy. “Further, we widely employ injection-molding in many of our ruggedized fixed and ground-mobile antenna products here at ThinKom, many operating in some very challenging temperature and vibration environments, and we envision eventual applicability of these to our aero-markets as well.”

“High Throughput spot-beam satellites are pushing IFC antennas to broader satellite operating (‘tunable’) bandwidths in support of open global ‘any place, any satellite’ flexibility and broader channel (‘instantaneous’) bandwidths, as individual transponder bandwidths are moving up from today’s standard 36 MHz to much larger 125, 250, and even 500 MHz in upcoming HTS and [Extreme High Throughput] ‘XTS’ implementations, ” says Milroy. “In terms of emerging NGSO satellite constellations, these share the same operating and channel bandwidth trends as GSO-based HTS, but in addition, push IFC antennas to support five to 20-times higher antenna beam agility (angular velocities and accelerations) in order to accommodate the much more challenging tracking and hand-off requirements uniquely associated with NGSO operations.”

Read the full article on GCA Summit.