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The Flight of the Hornet

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or the last few decades, air-to-ground communication has become a major selling point to increase aircraft attendance and improve flight services for airlines. Today’s flyers want fast, reliable Internet service wherever they are. However, providing seamless in-flight communication is a tall order. When Elmo was approached to enable precise motion control for a company providing satellite TV and Internet services for commercial aircrafts, it was clear that the selected solution would need to be designed for airborne use, cost-effective and with a small as possible form factor.

oday, technology on the ground still outpaces the speed of technology deployment in the air. Satellite development has enabled connection speeds on planes to vastly improve in recent years. Yet, in order to facilitate faster, more consistent global in-flight wireless connectivity, signals and antennas also have to catch up. Airborne connectivity components need to have a very small footprint, to withstand harsh environmental conditions, and to consistently maintain high-precision in these extreme temperatures. The most important challenge for these systems is the antenna capabilities, which need to track the satellites extremely accurately. Airborne antennas with high precision motion systems are instrumental in facilitating the consistent slow and smooth movement required to track the satellite.

Directional antennas mounted on the aircraft fuselage and tail slowly move to stay pointed at the correct transponder on the satellite up in orbit. In this way, the antennas track the transmitting satellite’s beam throughout the flight trajectory. Elmo’s Gold Hornet servo drive controls the delicate and precise movement of these antennas.

The small form factor (2.2”x1.8”x0.6”) of the Gold-Hornet enables it to be located very close to the antenna rotating motor. This ideal location of the Hornet translates into very little cabling, saving precious space, and promoting very low EMI and interference-free connectivity. Elmo’s solution incorporates a high resolution encoder with over 200 million counts per revolution, facilitating smooth operation at very slow speeds. The servo drive is based on intelligent CANopen motion control technology, complies with global standards and enables 3rd party flexibility.

Proven to demonstrate high reliability and performance operating in harsh environmental conditions, Elmo’s Hornet of the ExtrIQ products of Harsh-Environment servo drives, complies with stringent airborne quality requirements. The Gold-Hornet drive can withstand extreme temperatures (-40c to -70C), often including a factor of condensation, high altitudes with resilience to rapid changes in air pressure, and vibrations (14+G RMS).

Elmo’s Gold Hornet is a high-power density drive, capable of delivering high precision motion with a rugged design, making it ideal for airborne solutions.

Project Snapshot
Company: Satellite TV and Internet services provider
Project Location: Airborne
Number of users/machines impacted: 10’s of 1,000’s of aircraft passengers now enjoy interference-free broadband communication
Challenge Enabling passenger's connection to be as seamless as possible as the aircraft moves through the sky.
Solution Elmo’s Golden hornet

  • Seamless in-flight connectivity
  • Improves flight experience
  • Safe, reliable robust long-term
  • Saves operational resources

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Elmo Motion Control AG

Zürichstrasse 23A
CH-2504 Biel/Bienne

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