Permeable to high-speed data
Lufthansa Technik is developing its own radome with the "TIOS 2.0" solution
So that high-speed Internet and TV connections can be used on board passenger aircraft just like at home, the aircraft need to be equipped with self-aligning antennas. On aircraft types such as the Boeing BBJ-1 (737-700) and BBJ-2 (737-800), these mechanically controlled antenna systems are installed inside a radome mounted on the vertical stabilizer. Because these aircraft types do not have a lot of space for fitting additional antennas, Lufthansa Technik deviated from the standard configuration with two separate antennas mounted on the fuselage and developed a new Two-In-One-Solution (TIOS). TIOS saves space and − depending on the scope of the installation − up to 45 kg (99 lb) in weight. Moreover, the aerodynamic design reduces drag and thus operational costs. And because the antenna sub-systems are installed in the aft of the aircraft, it has a positive impact on the aircraft's center of gravity, too.
TIOS has been used since 2000 as the ideal platform for installing Satcom and satellite TV antennas on Boeing Business Jets. Lufthansa Technik developed TIOS for its own VIP completion division as well as for other completion centers. To date the solution has been available for L- and Ku-band frequencies, each offers different data rates. While the L-band only allows speeds of up to 864 kbit/s for simultaneous telephone and data transmission, for example, the Ku-band enables faster data transmission rates. The designation "Ku" stems from the German word "kurz", meaning "short", and refers to the wavelength of the signals between satellite and aircraft antenna. The Ku-band allows data rates of around 50 Mbit/s, but data rates of up to 100 Mbit/s are possible with Ka-band, making even live TV streaming possible on board.
The L- and Ku-band frequencies were used successfully for TIOS for 15 years until the Ka-band service was introduced by Inmarsat. However, the radome was no longer transparent enough for this new frequency band. So Lufthansa Technik set about developing TIOS 2.0 in December 2015 under the direction of the Original Equipment Innovation (OEI) division. Based on in-house methodology and following extensive research on materials and their properties together with the Airframe Related Components department, a completely new material lay-up was independently and successfully developed. Lufthansa Technik has meanwhile filed a patent application with the German Patent and Trademark Office to protect this innovatively designed radome structure. The corresponding parts for the radome are manufactured in the company's own autoclave.
In December 2016, following the successfully completed design of the system and various different tests, Lufthansa Technik received the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the validation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This officially makes Lufthansa Technik one of the few manufacturers of such radomes in the world.