Blue Sky Network, Iridium, Install Next-Gen Sat Terminal Aboard
Blue Sky Network has
installed a new-generation Iridium satellite terminal on Virgin
Atlantic GlobalFlyer, the revolutionary new lightweight jet
aircraft in which Steve Fossett hopes to achieve the first-ever
solo, non-stop flight around the world.
The Blue Sky Network system will permit the ground-based support
crew to track the aircraft’s location and monitor the status
of onboard systems, and also provide full two-way voice and email
communications with the aircraft throughout the flight.
The equipment supplied by Blue Sky Network consists of a D1000
mobile terminal with embedded GPS and a dual-channel antenna to
support concurrent voice and data transmissions. The D1000 is
connected via Ethernet to an iPAQ hand held computer with keyboard
for sending and receiving emails.
The D1000 receives inputs from aircraft sensors for critical
data such as fuel consumption, and is programmed to transmit
onboard data through the Blue Sky Network SkyRouter server network
to selected locations.
“Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer represents an ideal showcase
for the possibilities envisioned in our new D1000 mobile satellite
terminal and SkyRouter network. It will provide an extremely
flexible network-based solution for tracking and telemetry data
communications allowing many users access to their specific data
needs,” said Jon Gilbert, president and CEO of Blue Sky
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is a single-engine, long-range jet
aircraft that was built by Scaled Composites specifically for this
record attempt. The unique trimaran-style aircraft has a
wingspan of 114 ft (34.5 m), and is constructed entirely from
advanced graphite/epoxy composite materials. It will fly at
altitudes up to 51,000 ft (15,545 m) at speeds in excess of 250
knots (463 kph), and will carry more than four times its own weight
in fuel at take-off. The round-the-world flight is scheduled
to begin sometime near February 28, and is expected to take less
than 80 hours. Sir Richard Branson will accompany the flight
in a support aircraft.
“The Iridium satellite system provided by Blue Sky Network
will provide an important margin of safety for this extremely
challenging flight,” said Fossett. “Real-time
tracking and the monitoring of fuel consumption and other variables
will be invaluable to the success of the mission. This
Iridium satellite communication link will also let me keep in touch
with technical support personnel on the ground by voice and
“With Iridium’s global pole-to-pole coverage, the
pilot will never be out of touch. This is a terrific
opportunity to see the breadth of the Iridium capability,”
said Don Thoma, executive vice president of Iridium Satellite.