Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) has announced Rockwell Collins (NYSE:COL) as the newest Iridium Certus service provider for the aviation industry — Rockwell Collins will be adding the service to their comprehensive suite of aircraft connectivity applications for commercial, government and ARINCDirectSM business customers.
In addition to being a service provider, Rockwell Collins is also a value added manufacturer (VAM) for the design and production of Iridium Certus terminals. As a VAM and a service provider, Rockwell Collins will play a critical role in delivering the next-generation L-band broadband solution to customers around the world.
Iridium Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry no matter where in the world an aircraft may fly. The service will soon deliver the fastest L-band broadband speeds on the market at a competitive price with industry-leading small form factor antennas and terminals. 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 6 cm, while the low-gain antenna (LGA) solutions will enable data speeds of up to 176 Kbps.
Initial flight trials will occur later this year, with Iridium Certus commercial service introduction for aviation users expected in mid-2019. Commercial service introduction for other verticals, such as maritime and land-mobile, is planned for 2018. Iridium Certus is powered by Iridium NEXT, the Company’s next-generation satellite constellation, currently being deployed. To date, there have been six successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying 55 new satellites to orbit. Two more launches are planned for 2018, each carrying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, for a total of 75 launched, with 66 in the operational constellation and nine serving as on-orbit spares. The seventh launch is currently targeted for July 25, 2018, out of SpaceX’s west coast launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Michael DiGeorge, VP of Commercial Aviation Services for Rockwell Collins, said that Iridium Certus will be an important new service addition to meet the connectivity needs of commercial, business and government aircraft. For Rockwell Collin's ARINCDirect business aviation operators, Iridium Certus will offer small form factor antennas and terminals which are ideal for operators of smaller aircraft requiring internet connectivity. For the company's airline and government customers, the Iridium Certus service will enable a variety of capabilities for cockpit safety, enhanced aircraft reporting, graphical weather, EFBs and other operational aircraft services.
Michael Hooper, Director and GM of Iridium’s Aviation Line of Business, noted that adding Rockwell Collins as an Iridium Certus service provider is a major milestone for the program. Given the FAA’s recent movement toward adopting SATCOM as a primary means of onboard communications, Iridium Certus will be that much more of a shake up to the status quo within the aviation industry, bringing new capabilities, smaller hardware, faster speeds and competitive price packages. Like the services Rockwell Collins offers, Iridium Certus will support all areas of aircraft connectivity, from the flight deck to the cabin, regardless of location.
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