Gilat Satellite Networks has been granted a patent for an antenna architecture that allows for operation at low elevation angles, down to zero degrees from the satellite. The architecture, known as ‘3SA’, improves power consumption and array footprints, enabling the use of GEO, MEO, and LEO satellites in regions with low elevation angles. The apparatus includes a horizontal antenna array, two back-to-back vertical antenna arrays on an aircraft’s tail or fin, and a controller for selecting the operating antenna array based on various factors. GlobalData’s report on Gilat Satellite Networks gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on Gilat Satellite Networks, satellite communication systems was a key innovation area identified from patents. Gilat Satellite Networks's grant share as of June 2023 was 1%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Antenna architecture for aircraft with low elevation angle operation

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11677140B2) describes an apparatus for aircraft communication using antenna arrays. The apparatus includes a horizontal antenna array and two vertical antenna arrays installed on the tail or fin of the aircraft. Each vertical antenna array consists of a receiving array and a transmitting array. A controller is responsible for selecting the operating antenna array based on various factors such as the elevation angle between the aircraft and the satellite's orbital location, the skew angle between the antenna array and the satellite, waveform or throughput considerations, transceiver power level, and power spectral density (PSD) threshold allowance.

The controller is designed to ensure optimal communication by selecting the appropriate antenna array. It can cause the horizontal antenna array and the two vertical antenna arrays to operate at scan angles within a range determined by a maximum acceptable scan loss threshold. The apparatus is capable of communicating with different types of satellites, including GEO, MEO, or LEO satellites.

To conserve power, the apparatus reduces the power provided to the unselected antenna array. The controller is independent of any external equipment and can make the antenna array selection autonomously. The apparatus also includes an enclosure that houses the horizontal and vertical antenna arrays.

The controller itself can be a processor, a GPS receiver, or one or more gyros. It can select the horizontal antenna array as the operating antenna array if the elevation angle is greater than a threshold, or one of the vertical antenna arrays if the elevation angle is less than a threshold. The selection can also be based on the elevation angle and the type of aircraft.

The horizontal antenna array is electronically steerable, and the controller can electronically steer it. The boresight direction of the horizontal antenna array is approximately perpendicular to the boresight direction of one of the vertical antenna arrays.

Overall, this patent describes an apparatus and method for efficient aircraft communication using antenna arrays. The selection of the operating antenna array is based on various factors, ensuring optimal communication with satellites. The apparatus is designed to conserve power and can be installed on different types of aircraft.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.