Tag Archives: Iridium

798 Satellite Communications

Satellite communications for aviation with the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc. In the news, we’ve lost an aviation icon, a DOT Office of Inspector General report looks NextGen, an unruly passenger pays the price, a second Boeing whistleblower dies, the declining value of frequent flyer programs, and squawking the 7700 emergency distress code.

Guest

Logo of satellite communications provider Iridium Communications.

John Peterson is the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc., a satellite communications company offering global voice and data coverage. John helps deliver Iridium’s safety, voice, and data solutions to pilots and operators. John is an aviation enthusiast and private pilot who has worked in the industry for 30 years in different roles, including engineering, product management, and leadership roles at Boeing, Collins, Gogo, and Honeywell.

Iridium provides an L-band service with signals that pass through weather effectively. The Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies used by others have higher data rates but are more susceptible to degradation caused by weather. Because of the L-band reliability, those frequencies are permitted for safety applications.

John explains that the infrastructure for ground-based communication is robust in the U.S., but not so over the ocean. Thus, satellite communications are necessary for flights over areas without ground stations.

We learn that the Iridium “legacy” satellites have a data rate of 2.4 kbps while the new Iridium Certus® satellites offer a faster 700 kbps. John explains the orbital planes of the Iridium Low Earth Orbit satellites and how data gets to ground stations via cross-links between satellites.

John tells us about GA applications for satellite communications and the value-added resellers. We also explore critical infrastructure support, narrow-band IoT (direct-to-device) technologies,  and how low-cost hand-held transponders could bring significant value to aviation.

Aviation News

Dick Rutan, co-pilot of historic round-the-world flight, dies aged 85

Dick Rutan was a USAF pilot, a Vietnam War veteran who flew 325 missions, and a test pilot. He flew the first unrefueled non-stop flight around the world with Jeana Yeager in the Rutan Voyager, designed by his brother Burt. Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Rutan Long-EZ kit aircraft around the world as the Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour. Dick set the point-to-point distance record in a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft. He died from complications of Long COVID in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on May 3, 2024. He was 85.

DOT Inspector General Report Faults FAA NextGen Progress

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), is a large-scale FAA initiative to modernize the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). According to the FAA, “NextGen… has modernized air traffic infrastructure in communications, navigation, surveillance, automation, and information management with the aim of increasing the safety, efficiency, capacity, predictability, flexibility, and resiliency of American aviation. NextGen’s scope includes airport infrastructure improvements, new air traffic technologies and procedures, and safety and security enhancements.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report says the NextGen air traffic management technology is not living up to FAA promises.

See: FAA’s Report on Air Traffic Modernization Presents an Incomplete and Out-of-Date Assessment of NextGen [PDF] from the OIG.

A United Airlines passenger got “belligerent” with flight attendants. Here’s what that will cost him.

A passenger from Chelmsford, England on a flight from London to Newark, New Jersey had a loud argument with his girlfriend. Then he started yelling at a flight attendant. Court documents indicate that he was verbally and physically aggressive. The TSA said, “When flight attendants asked [the man] to be quiet and attempted to calm him, he became belligerent, threatening, and intimidating towards them. He also said that he would “mess up the plane.” The man was restrained and the plane diverted to Bangor, Maine. On March 22, 2024, he pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with a flight crew and was sentenced to time already served and ordered to pay United Airlines $20,638.

Was Foul Play Involved in the Boeing Whistleblowers’ Deaths? People Are Definitely Worried About It.

A second Boeing whistleblower has died, in this case, the man was 45 and passed after becoming suddenly ill. Two months ago, another whistleblower was found dead in his truck from a gunshot wound.

The bad news about your airline points

It’s harder to gain status on Delta, Alaska has increased points needed for some destinations, American limited what tickets earn points (based on where you bought the tickets), some airlines stopped posting redemption charts so you don’t know what your points are worth, airlines sometimes charge more for “mileage multipliers” than what the points are worth, and some airlines charge a fee to transfer points.

Mystery of Why Multiple Flights Over Belgium Suddenly Started Transmitting Emergency Distress Call in Quick Succession Has Been Solved 

At least four aircraft flying over Belgium squawked the 7700 emergency distress code at about the same time. Observers were curious about why, but the controller asked them to squawk 7700 when rerouting them through airspace where the military was conducting training.

Mentioned

Graphic for the Rockets and Rotors special exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, our Main(e) Man Micah, and David Vanderhoof.

445 Iridium Communications and Space 2.0

The CEO of Iridium Communications tells us about the satellites being placed into orbit and the services they’ll provide to aviation. In the news, airlines react to the laptop ban, a proposed TSA fee increase draws criticism, FAA forecasts slow growth for general aviation, and an engine manufacturer looks to expand. Also, interviews from the Heart of Texas Airshow.

Successful First Launch of Ten Iridium NEXT Satellites

Successful First Launch of Ten Iridium NEXT Satellites

Guest

Matthew Desch, CEO Iridium.

Matthew Desch. Iridium photo.

Matt Desch is the CEO of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications company that offers global voice and data coverage through its constellation of low-Earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites.

Matt explains the company’s next-generation constellation, Iridium NEXT, with deployment expected for completion in 2018. We talk about how the satellites are placed into orbit with SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, and what will happen to the old constellation being replaced.

Matt describes the capabilities of Iridium NEXT and the implications for aviation. That includes the Aireon service, a hosted payload that will listen for ADS-B signals and relay them in real time to air navigation service providers.

A long time telecom/technology executive, Matt started his career at Bell Laboratories, and was an early pioneer in the cellular phone business. He was involved with a number of high tech companies over the years prior to becoming CEO at Iridium.

Follow Matt on Twitter as @iridiumboss and visit the Iridium website for more information, and to order Iridium NEXT memorabilia. Iridium is on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr.

Video: Successful First Launch of Ten Iridium NEXT Satellites

Aviation News

The Jordanian Airline Making Money Off the Laptop Ban and Fly Lemonade: Turning Electronics Ban Into a Sweet Brand Opportunity

Affected airlines have been quick to react to the PED ban. Royal Jordanian has continued it’s marketing campaign that pokes fun at the U.S. presidential election and recent government policies. Emirates started a service where you hand over your banned devices at the gate, which they package and place in the cargo hold. You get to work right up to boarding time. Etihad has a Make Flying Great Again video that illustrates the features of their IFE system. They also tout their seats that fully recline for sleeping, and their flying nanny to help keep children entertained.

U.S. Airlines Push Back Against Proposed TSA Fee Hike

The Trump administration proposes to increase the TSA fee that passengers pay. But the U.S. airline trade group Airlines for America says that each year, about $1.3 billion of the fees collected do not go to fund aviation security. Instead, they are allocated to overall deficit reduction.

FAA forecast: Slow general aviation growth, drone explosion

In its 20-year forecast, the FAA estimated slow growth for general aviation. The agency sees a decline of 17,500 fixed-wing piston aircraft, offsetting a small annual increase in turbine aircraft and other segments, with a net annual growth rate of 0.1 percent.

The number of small commercial drones in the domestic UAS fleet is expected to grow from 42,000 at the end of last year to 442,000 by the end of 2021. FAA projects commercial U.S. passenger growth of 1.9 percent a year over the next two decades.

Continental Motors to Expand Dramatically

Continental Motors plans to break ground this year on a new $70 million manufacturing center and corporate headquarters in Mobile, Alabama. CEO Rhett Ross says, “We see that different power systems are going to be necessary. You’ll see much more electrified aircraft. This increases our flexibility for new designs.”

Airshow Interviews

Airplane Geeks Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari brings us interviews from the Heart of Texas Airshow, held March 18-19, 2017 Waco, Texas / TSTC Airport.

  • “Laser Dave” McConkey is a flight engineer for the B-17G operated by the Gulf Coast Wing unit of the Commemorative Air Force.
  • Nick “Bearshark” Green from the F-18 demonstration team.
  • Greg Howell, flying a Mig17 built in 1960 in Poland.
  • Air Refueling Specialist MSG Jerry Cummings from the KC-135 Air Refueling Wing.
  • Captain Phillip Fernandez flying the V-22 Osprey

Mentioned

Daher TBM 900 turboprop.

PaxEx Podcast #44 with aircraft interiors and travel expert John Walton on the laptop ban, Zodiac Aerospace seat quality problems on Cathay Pacific A350-900s, and the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg April 4-6, 2017.

Fly Like a Girl – Documentary Film – “Fly Like a Girl explores the courageous history of women in aviation. This feature-length documentary reveals the contributions women have made to aviation and brings to light the many women who are doing extraordinary work in aviation and STEM today.  Fly Like a Girl also examines why many young girls don’t see themselves in aviation / STEM related fields and how society can begin to change this perception. Fly Like a Girl will inspire girls and women who no longer want to be passengers.”

Crawl through a B-29 Superfortress IN FLIGHT! + Real-Time procedures / ATC – Oshkosh AirVenture!

Credit

Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

 

AirplaneGeeks 303 – Become a Pilot Day 2014

David, Rob, Max, and Benet

Recorded at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum during the 10th annual Become a Pilot Family Day and Aviation Display.

This annual event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly, Virginia offers not only the Museum’s amazing exhibits, but also about 50 vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft flown in for one day only. This year, United brought in a Boeing 777 that was open for a tour.

Our visit this year was sponsored by Iridium Communications Inc.

National Transportation Safety Board training center tour

TWA 800

The day before the event at the NASM, the NTSB was kind enough to provide us special access to their training center in Ashburn, Virginia. This marvelous facility is used to train NTSB accident investigators, as well as investigators from other agencies and organizations.

We were given a briefing on the TWA Flight 800 accident investigation, and then toured the aircraft reconstruction, which is used for training with permission of the victim’s families. The depth of the investigation (which took over four years) is amazing and the examining the physical evidence first hand is an experience we will not forget.

None of us came away with any faith in the conspiracy theories that continue to swirl around the accident. All the analysis points to an internal explosion of the fuel vapor in the center tank.

General (ret) John R. “Jack” Dailey

A retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and pilot, he’s been the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum since 2000. We talk with the General about his expectations for the event and stimulating STEM. Also, about the future of the Museum with more people visiting online. The NASM is digitizing their database and is planning for free online accessibility. The Museum also plans to bring in more of the aircraft they have.

Capt. Robert Randazzo

1941 ex-Pan American World Airways DC-3 (NC33611)

Robert Randazzo flew-in the 1945 ex-Pan American World Airways DC-3 (NC33611) he has restored in full Pan Am livery and named the “Tabatha May.” We also talk a bit about Randazzio’s past experience racing a T-6 at Reno.

Matt Desch

Iridium Go!

Matt Desch is the CEO of Iridium Communications, the world’s largest satellite system. Their new Iridium Go! product is the first satellite WiFi voice and data hotspot that works anywhere on the planet at any altitude. Interestingly, Iridium offers an API so developers can create apps for the device.

Matt is also on the Board of AOPA, and we talk about the organization’s mission, the value of being a member, current aviation issues, and the Rusty Pilots program. New AOPA President Mark Baker has initiated a series of regional fly-ins across the U.S., with very good results. On the topic of the cost to be a private pilot, we chat about renovating older airplanes as an affordable option.

Iridium was kind enough to sponsor the Airplane Geeks at the event.

Bill Barry

Bill Barry is Chief Historian with the NASA History Program Office, and we talk about what interests an historian at the NASM and the relationship between NASA and the NASM. The predecessor organization of NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), will have been founded 100 ago next year, and we talk about the many significant contributions they made.

Follow the History Program Office on Twitter at @NASAHistory and visit them on Facebook.

Edgar “E.T.” Tello

Seabee

A current B757/767 Captain with United, Tello flew in the B777 on display. But he also owns a Republic Seabee and Rob talks with him about that aircraft. The Seabee was envisioned as a sport plane for pilots returning after the Second World War.

Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at www.brotherloverocks.com.

Become a Pilot Day 2014, NASM

We’d like to thank the staff and crew at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for their hard work to make this event a success, and for facilitating the content we bring to you. We’d also like to thank the NTSB for giving us access to their training center, and for their strong dedication to making aviation safer for all of us.