Demand for mobile-satellite services (MSS) is growing. Major contributors to this growth in demand are users that increasingly expect in-flight connectivity, social media access and telephony, while aircraft and vessels increasingly rely on data connections for the tracking and monitoring of critical equipment such as the engines.
All mobile-satellite services rely on specialised MSS terminals, which have traditionally been costly and taken years to develop. Inmarsat wanted to develop a next-generation compact aviation MSS terminal to stay at the forefront of the growing and highly competitive business aviation market. Timely availability of the new satcom solution was considered to be key to market uptake. The goal was to minimise the time to market for a low-cost, compact and light-weight design that was easy to install on aircraft.
Another important consideration for Inmarsat was to ensure that the MSS terminal mitigated the impact of potential sources of interference from other users of neighbouring spectrum. In particular, with the global roll out of cellular LTE services, special measures must be taken to protect the satellite terminal’s receiver.
We selected TTP as a partner because of their comprehensive knowledge of satcoms, plus they understand our business and we were sure that they would deliver.
What we did
At the outset of the project TTP worked closely with the Inmarsat team to establish the requirements for the terminal. The subsequent development took advantage of Inmarsat’s small, low-cost, light-weight BGAN Radio Module (BRM) and interference-resilient front-end designs to quickly arrive at a new compact aviation MSS system design. For best overall performance, careful consideration was given to the design of the compact MSS antenna.
Despite its small size, the MSS terminal’s mechanical design allowed for the required heat dissipation without the need for forced air cooling. The software and hardware were developed in accordance with aviation standards DO-178 and DO-254 (to DAL level D) and the resulting design was tested to the demanding aviation environmental requirements (DO-160G).
TTP was also able to quickly demonstrate the terminal’s compliance with Inmarsat’s type approval requirements through use of its extensive automated test lab. This eliminated the need for manual testing and accelerated the development by months. Finally, TTP and Inmarsat worked with other partners to transfer the MSS terminal design into production and gain certification for the system.
The new aviation MSS terminal is compact, easy to install on aircraft and provides end-users with cost-effective and reliable global connectivity, including voice and data for non-safety cockpit communications and passenger connectivity in the cabin.
It enables Inmarsat to respond quickly to the evolving needs of the growing aviation MSS market, which is particularly valuable in a highly competitive landscape where time to market is key for adoption.