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Phasor: Inflight Communications and the Connected Aircraft

In the very near future, a unique and groundbreaking access technology will transform commercial and business aviation connectivity. Today, airlines and fleet operators have placed inflight communications at the top of their priority list and some gains have been made. However, the inflight connectivity experience is about to be changed forever.

The advent of “High Throughput Satellite” (HTS) capacity is beginning to change the mobile satellite communications market, giving the potential of broadband, data-centric connectivity from just about anywhere. It has already begun, and several planned constellations will add capacity and coverage over the next few years.

In an inflight communications (IFC) services survey last year by Inmarsat, 83% of passengers stated that they prefer to choose an airline that offers inflight Wi-Fi services. Availability and then speed, cost and performance of airborne networks are becoming key considerations for passengers when booking flights. IFC services are becoming a competitive“must-have” for commercial airlines.

In addition to the rapid growth in demand for high-speed passenger Wi-Fi connectivity, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) has headed skyward, offering the promise of telematics information to drive aircraft operational efficiency. According to Intelsat, two-thirds of airlines are expected to operate connected aircraft by 2019. This is beginning modestly, but it is forecast to grow dramatically over the next 5+ years.While each of these individual IoT data sources on aircraft may be “narrowband”, in aggregate they too drive the need for robust data connectivity.

There is a great deal of mobility-centric wideband capacity being developed by satellite operators, AND there is growing and unmet demand being driven by inflight passenger connectivity and emerging IoT networking requirements.  So, why hasn’t all this taken off more dramatically?

The access technology has been the issue.

To deliver truly empowering broadband connectivity to aircraft, you need ‘wideband” aeronautical antennas.  This has meant large, heavy, non-aerodynamic solutions to date, employing a variety of mechanical-steering techniques and permutations on parabolic dish antennas, (akin to a traditional VSAT terminal). These solutions can create drag, which increases fuel costs when fuselage mounted. They are also prone to mechanical failure, with many moving parts and are difficult and costly to install and repair when tail-mounted.

As the broadband connectivity revolution heads skywards, the challenge for inflight service providers is to find access technology that is agile, powerful, very low profile, light-weight, reliable and can meet the high demands and regulations of the aero sector.

Phasor, an electronically steerable antenna (ESA) developer based in the US, will soon launch an enterprise grade, very low profile, conformal ESA with characteristics that both meet and exceed the requirements of commercial airlines and business jet operators.This breakthrough technology will transform IFC, enabling wider adoption to more kinds of aircraft, and offering service providers and airlines the benefits of greater functionality, reliability and scalability.

Low profile, aerodynamic and aesthetic

The Phasor ESA is very low profile, just 2 inches thick all-in, and is lightweight and conformable to the curvature of the aircraft fuselage.


The Phasor ESA is completely solid state, with no mechanical moving parts, so it is highly reliable and failure-tolerant.

High performance

The Phasor ESA is modular & efficient, allowing the antenna to be scaled to whatever the mission requires, based on throughput goals and available aperture size.

Multi-satellite tracking on a single antenna

Using its software-defined antenna technology, the Phasor ESA system will offer multiple independent beams, enabling the tracking of two independent satellites simultaneously. This capability is very useful for moving between HTS spot beams while en route, but is essential for connectivity to the several Low Earth Orbit (LEO) wideband satellite constellations in development.

The future of inflight connectivity is about to change….

Learn more about how our technology will transform the aeronautical broadband market and watch our informational video: