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Boeing working on much better connectivity in their airplanes

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The aerosospace giant Boeing continues to advance its suite of connectivity offerings for customers, signing a contract with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to produce a new radome, the Boeing Tri-band. The radome will support Ku and K/Ka wideband commercial and military satellite communications.

The so-called Tri-band radome is the latest of several Boeing initiatives to provide safe and reliable passenger services, such as in-flight use for cell phones, internet access via Wi-Fi connectivity and live satellite television broadcasts. It will be available for both retrofit and production airplane installation in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Radome, - a combination of “radar” and “dome” - is a weatherproof structure that protects an airplane’s antenna to enable reliable satellite communications. The Boeing Tri-band is approximately the size of a car-top luggage carrier and has a maximum weight of 80 pounds. It is designed for use with antennas from multiple manufacturers and with data services from all current providers, offering more passenger connectivity choices for Boeing airplane operators.

Technically based on Boeing’s proven Ku-band radome design, the new design meets or exceeds current Ku-band radome performance and also provides industry-leading performance for Ka-band operators.

“The Boeing Tri-band exemplifies the kind of competitive advantage we aim to give our customers,” said Rick Anderson, vice president, Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Airlines are telling us that the Boeing Tri-band’s affordability, flexibility, wide range of capability and compatibility with all current data services make it ideal for their Boeing fleets, which have to quickly and economically adopt new technology to better serve passengers.”

Boeing's partner General Dynamics will supply the radomes. “General Dynamics and Boeing have enjoyed a long partnership in radome development,” commented Jim Losse, vice president and general manager, of Advanced Materials for General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. “This Ku/K/Ka tri-band system will offer the flying public better in-flight entertainment and connectivity over current single band Ku systems.”

The unit can be mounted on new or existing airplane mounting plates, which makes it simple and economical to retrofit. The Tri-band supports satellite communications at all frequencies currently used and planned for use, in the Ku-band and extended K- and Ka-bands. Like all Boeing radomes, it will meet all FAA environmental and safety requirements, including the recently revised FAA regulations for bird strike survivability.

The innovation is planned for use as a line-fit option on Boeing 737s, 747s, 777s and 787 Dreamliners. It will also be available for retrofit.

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