Iridium announces partners for new Certus service

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An Iridium NEXT satellite
An Iridium NEXT satellite

Iridium Communications announced today that Honeywell Aerospace, SKYTRAC, Avitek and Navicom Aviation are the first Iridium Certus service providers to be selected for the aviation industry.

As Iridium Certus service providers, each company will be able to offer the new broadband satellite connectivity to its customers.

Ideal for commercial airliner flight deck communications, rotorcraft and both flight deck and cabin business jet connectivity, Iridium says Certus will soon offer the industry’s fastest L-Band speeds.

It says this will be delivered through small form factor, cost-effective antennas with the same pole-to-pole coverage provided by the Iridium network.

“Iridium Certus will extend Honeywell’s vision for the Connected Aircraft by enabling high-speed data rates for all aircraft types operating anywhere in the world,” said John Peterson, Honeywell’s Senior Director of Services and Connectivity.

“Combining the capabilities of the new Iridium constellation with GoDirect’s Flight Services, Connected Maintenance, and Optimization Analytics will bring even greater operational efficiency for Honeywell’s thousands of airline, military, business and commercial operators.”

SKYTRAC provides performance trending, operations reporting, real-time asset tracking and situational awareness solutions to the aviation industry.

SKYTRAC will extend Iridium Certus services to aviation partners as well as delivering the technology on their ISAT-200A hardware.

SKYTRAC President, Malachi Nordine, said: “Our mission is to drive flight safety and efficiency through streamlined air-to-ground connectivity. With its higher bandwidth, Iridium Certus will allow us to bring more power to recent innovations like real-time Health and Usage monitoring and weather to cockpit while also offering highest-quality voice services.

“SKYTRAC is proud to have been selected as one in a limited group of companies to offer Iridium Certus services direct to aviation clients.”

Based in China, Avitek is an aviation solutions company that provides onboard communications, ADS-B, ACARS and Electronic Flight Bag services.

Avitek has been instrumental in equipping airliners throughout China with Iridium satellite communications devices to meet the Airline Operational Communications voice mandate by the Civil Aviation Authority of China.

The introduction of Iridium Certus will allow Avitek to enhance the capability of the data solutions it offers and improve flight standards and operations as a result.

Navicom Aviation, based in Japan, says it is dedicated to the safe and efficient operation of aircraft. With a large number of helicopters in Japan serving public safety efforts for police and fire departments and the Japanese Coast Guard, Navicom plays a vital role in ensuring their aircraft stay connected.

Navicom will provide the Iridium Certus service in support of their goal to help improve flight support systems for the overall aviation industry.

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Enabled by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, Iridium says Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry.

It will feature a range of throughput and service options that will enable everything from graphical weather reports, multi-user internet/VPN and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) redundancy to flight data recorder streaming, video conferencing, and, upon formal approval, safety services.

The Iridium Certus high-gain antenna (HGA) solutions will provide data speed options of up to 704 Kbps, and eventually as high as approximately 1.4 Mbps following full Iridium NEXT deployment, with an antenna size of approximately 24 x 10 x 6cm, while the low-gain antenna (LGA) solutions will enable data speeds of up to 176 Kbps.

“Iridium Certus is poised to introduce a revolution in aircraft communications,” said Brian Pemberton, Vice President Strategic Planning and General Manager aviation at Iridium.

“Iridium Certus leverages the inherent advantages of the Iridium network and architecture and combines that with enhanced capabilities of the Iridium NEXT constellation to redefine best-in-class aircraft connectivity.

“Iridium Certus not only satisfies the connectivity requirements for the flight deck, but also serves as an ideal cabin connectivity solution for many business aviation users.

“Initial flight trials will take place later this year, with Iridium Certus commercial service introduction expected in mid-2019 for aviation users,” he said.

Commercial service introduction for other verticals, such as maritime and land-mobile, is planned for mid-2018.

Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation.

To date, there have been four successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying more than half of the new constellation. Four additional launches are planned for 2018.

Iridium says it been informed by SpaceX that the new target launch date for Iridium-5 out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, is March 29 at 7:19 AM PDT (14:19 UTC) with a back-up date of March 30.

This is the earliest available date, given range availability and pre-launch preparation requirements.

Of note, the same Falcon 9 first stage from the Iridium-3 mission will be used for this upcoming launch, and that will deliver another 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit.

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