Aircraft antennas perform a broad range of functions on modern aircraft, from conveying voice and data to helping locate the aircraft via the GPS network. There are generally at least two radio antennas on an aircraft as well as a GPS receiver; a VOR (omni-directional radar-ranging) antenna; and an ELT (emergency location transmitter) antenna.
A modern aircraft such as the Boeing 787 has more than 20 antennas protruding from its fuselage, including the systems mentioned above, but also others for:
- satellite communications
- marker beacons
- weather radar
- ultra-high-frequency DME
- instrument landing system
- wireless local area network
- air traffic control and traffic collision-avoidance system
- terminal cellular system
- crew wireless LAN unit
Check real time Dreamliner flights: https://www.radarbox24.com/aircraft/B789
Lightning strikes, a major issue to antennas
Damage caused to antenna systems by lightning includes small and larger holes, or partial melting of the system due to the energy of the lightning.
External antennas are prone to lightning strikes because they act as conductors.
Thales has developed its latest FlytLINK communications and safety technology operates using Iridium Certus broadband services over a network of 66 satellites that cover 100% of the globe, including poles and oceans.
FlytLINK uses this network to provide highly reliable, mobile and essential voice, text and web communications for pilots, crews and passengers, including real-time weather and provision for Wi-Fi. Its safety features include optional flight-data streaming, push-to-talk voice, ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) and other embedded safety services.
Operationally, FlytLINK enhances in-air reporting, service logging, flight crew scheduling, aircraft monitoring and other operational service needs. It also supports electronic-flight-bag pairing, real-time weather, active aircraft tracking, secure pilot and crew Wi-Fi access, and enhanced calling.
From the past
French fighter jet Rafale antennas
The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an early warning self-protection (EWSP) ability, otherwise known as electronic support measures (ESM).