Classic Aero SATCOM: Historically, aircraft communication relied on classic SATCOM systems that were relatively slow and had limited bandwidth.

High-Speed Data SATCOM: With advancements in technology, modern aircraft are equipped with high-speed data SATCOM systems, providing faster data rates and enabling services like in-flight entertainment, live TV streaming, and real-time data transmission.

Aircraft SATCOM stands for “Aircraft Satellite Communications.” It refers to the use of satellite-based communication systems on aircraft to transmit and receive data, voice, and other communication signals. SATCOM systems play a crucial role in modern aviation by enabling seamless communication between aircraft and ground stations, as well as between aircraft and other aircraft.

The working of aircraft SATCOM (Satellite Communications) involves a complex system of technologies and processes that allow aircraft to establish and maintain communication links with satellites, ground stations, and other aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with a satellite communication antenna, often located on the fuselage or other suitable parts of the aircraft. This antenna is designed to transmit and receive signals to and from satellites in space. Aircraft SATCOM systems are designed to minimize latency (signal delay) to maintain real-time communication. However, there may still be a slight delay due to the distance signals must travel between the aircraft, satellite, and ground station. The available bandwidth (data capacity) varies depending on the satellite constellation and the specific system in use.

Various satellite constellations are used to provide global coverage for aircraft SATCOM. These constellations can be in different orbits, such as geostationary orbit (GEO) or Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and are operated by satellite network providers like Inmarsat, Iridium, and Viasat.

SATCOM allows pilots and crew members to communicate with air traffic control, obtain weather updates, receive flight plan revisions, and exchange important operational information while in flight. SATCOM enables in-flight connectivity, allowing passengers to access the internet, make phone calls, and send messages during their journey. SATCOM systems can transmit real-time data about the aircraft’s health and performance, allowing airlines to monitor the condition of their fleet and identify potential maintenance issues. SATCOM facilitates communication between airlines’ operation centers and their aircraft, assisting with flight tracking, scheduling, and operational coordination. The cost of aircraft SATCOM services depends on the type of equipment, the satellite orbit and frequency, and the data usage. The price of the equipment can range from $1,500 to $100,000 US depending on the bandwidth and coverage. The operational cost can vary from $50 to $150 US/month for tracking service, plus additional charges for voice and data usage

Aircraft SATCOM systems typically consist of satellite antennas, onboard communication equipment, and ground stations. The antennas are designed to establish and maintain communication links with satellites in various orbits.

SATCOM services for aircraft are provided by satellite network providers like Inmarsat, Iridium, Viasat, and others. These providers operate satellite constellations specifically designed to support aviation communication needs.


Aircraft SATCOM is a fundamental technology that revolutionizes aviation by providing reliable, secure, and global communication capabilities. It plays a crucial role in both civilian and military aviation, enhancing safety, efficiency, and connectivity for all stakeholders involved. Airlines are installing larger and more powerful SATCOM antennas to support the increased bandwidth requirements of streaming video and other high-demand applications.


Recent advancements in SATCOM technology are making it possible to provide aircraft with faster, more reliable, and more secure connectivity. Some of the key advancements in this area include:

The use of new satellite constellations, such as SpaceX’s Starlink and OneWeb, which provide global coverage and high-bandwidth connectivity

The development of new antenna technologies, such as electronically scanned arrays (ESAs), which can track multiple satellites simultaneously and provide more efficient use of bandwidth

The use of new encryption technologies, which can protect aircraft communications from unauthorized access

Software-defined radios (SDRs) are becoming increasingly popular for aircraft SATCOM. SDRs are more flexible and adaptable than traditional radios, making them easier to upgrade and maintain. This is important for aircraft SATCOM, as the technology is constantly evolving. SDRs consume less power than traditional radios, which is important for aircraft, as they need to conserve fuel. SDRs are smaller and lighter than traditional radios, which is important for aircraft. SDRs can be configured to operate on a variety of frequencies and modulation schemes, which gives aircraft more flexibility in terms of communications.

These advancements are having a major impact on the aviation industry, enabling new applications and improving the safety and efficiency of air travel. For example, SATCOM is now being used to provide passengers with in-flight Wi-Fi, which allows them to stay connected with work, family, and friends while on the go. SATCOM is also being used to deliver real-time weather updates to pilots, which can help them to avoid bad weather and make safer decisions.


In modern warfare scenarios, real-time communication and coordination between aircraft, ground stations, command centers, and other military assets are crucial. SATCOM ensures that military aircraft remain connected, enabling seamless communication and situational awareness on the battlefield.

Military aircraft require secure and encrypted communication channels to transmit sensitive information, commands, and intelligence. SATCOM systems used in defense are designed to provide secure communication, protecting sensitive data from interception and unauthorized access.


Aircraft SATCOM is a fundamental technology that revolutionizes aviation by providing reliable, secure, and global communication capabilities. It plays a crucial role in both civilian and military aviation, enhancing safety, efficiency, and connectivity for all stakeholders involved.

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