Kymeta plans to release the first commercial units of its meta-materials technology-based mTenna in 2017.
The small mTenna Ka-band terminal will bring connectivity to platforms that are too small for Honeywell’s JetWave fuselage- and tail-mounted antennas, including bizjets, small regional aircraft, private airplanes, and UAVs.
Honeywell and Inmarsat have been working with Kymeta on a small flat panel TFT-based Ka-band antenna for the latter’s Global Xpress (GX) service.
According to a feature on Satellite Today, Kymeta President and CEO Nathan Kundtz, is reported as saying: “We are in the middle of productising that [LCD TFT] technology.
“We have gone through two alpha spins, we will go through two more beta spins this year, and intend to release to pilot manufacturing in December of this year. We will have limited availability early in 2017.”
The antenna does away with the traditional parabolic dish or phased array and replaces it with a flat panel made of meta-materials.
Kymeta says its electromagnetic meta-material technology uses “a holographic approach to electronically acquire, steer, and lock a beam to any satellite, with no moving parts”. It uses Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD technology that can be switched on or off to help with the beam forming.
On the mTenna suite of reconfigurable holographic meta-material antenna (RHMA) products, tuneable elements are arranged in a precisely-calculated pattern.
It is believed the antenna makes use of the properties of an electromagnetic “surface wave”.
Radio frequency (RF) energy is scattered when the elements are activated, holographically generating a beam. The direction of the beam is therefore defined by the specific elements that are electronically activated — a design that allows for both continual and instantaneous changes in direction.
Last month at Ebace, Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat’s VP Strategy and Business, said that development work was progressing on the innovative Kymeta mTenna Ka-band flat-panel GX antenna.
“The basic mTenna technology has been proven, but there are still discussions to be had about its configuration and size, so the full commercial antenna is probably still at least two years out,” Weidemeyer said.
“In terms of business aircraft, the Kymeta solution is still the best we have for aircraft that can’t take a tail-mount.”
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