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Intelsat Demonstrates Multi-Orbit Antenna in Tests Flights for Airlines

By Rachel Jewett | February 28, 2023

A Bombardier regional jet equipped with Intelsat’s ESA antenna. Photo: Intelsat/Business Wire

Intelsat recently demonstrated its new electronically steered array (ESA) antenna on test flights with global airlines on the company’s Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jet. 

The antenna, announced in June 2022, can operate between Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites. It uses Ball Aerospace ESA technology with a modular design and integration from Stellar Blu Solutions.

Intelsat said in a Tuesday announcement that peak in-flight download speeds exceeded 275 Mbps, and airline customers were able to participate in live virtual meetings, stream media, and stay connected without interruptions. The antenna weighs 90 pounds and stands 3.5 inches tall on top of the aircraft, with no moving parts. 

“After installing the system in December, we’ve been hard at work perfecting this new technology and have taken some of the world’s leading airlines for test flights. An antenna without moving parts, that is much smaller than its predecessors, enables airlines to compete in the marketplace, delight their guests and have confidence that Intelsat’s multi-orbit antenna will provide the best performing inflight connectivity experience in the market,” said Jeff Sare, president of Intelsat Commercial Aviation.

This antenna is currently available, and Alaska Airlines recently signed a deal for the ESA and Intelsat IFC services aboard its fleet of Embraer regional jet fleet.