DN - Defence Notes

?Starling could make $60 million from EMS tie-up,? says parent company

26th September 2008 - 00:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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ELRON Electronic Industries of Israel says that daughter company Starling Advanced Communications stands to earn up to $60 million from the first business arising from its Ku-band antenna development relationship with US company EMS Technologies. The latter has just announced a deal with an unnamed aeronautical satellite communications service provider for the supply of aircraft antennas.

Starling had long sought a US partner to help with manufacturing, marketing and sales in its efforts to bring its ingenious multi-panel technology to the North American airline market. At the beginning of the year it announced a deal with Atlanta-based EMS Technologies, which knows the sector well through its agreements to supply Ku-band receive-only antennas for the LiveTV inflight television service offered by JetBlue and a number of other carriers.

At the WAEA show in Long Beach earlier this month the partners revealed the fruits of their collaboration in the shape of the Aura range of products. This family of antennas includes three two-way Ku-band systems based on Starling’s existing MIJET family of low-profile mechanically steered phased-array systems – the original MIJET for long-haul airliners, mini-MIJET for business aircraft and MIJETLite for narrowbody airliners. In their Aura guise the antennas combine Starling’s phased array and radio-frequency elements with an EMS positioner to physically tilt and rotate the array.

The single-panel Aura 1P-A is designed as a lightweight, low-profile package to meet the needs of regional carriers. Aura 1P-B also has a single panel, but shaped differently to offer greater performance for regional and international carriers. Both are still in development. The larger, three-panel Aura 3P offers the maximum in data rates for regional and international carriers. It is fully developed and commercially available.

“Our relationship with EMS is designed to maximise our chances of success in the request-for-proposal processes currently being run by a number of broadband service providers,” Starling sales and marketing VP Jacob Keret said at WAEA. “We see 2009 as a pivotal year for us in terms of winning customers, whether directly or through EMS.”

The Elron announcement suggests that Starling is finally beginning to make headway in the marketplace after several years of development and promotional work. Tel-Aviv-based Elron says that EMS Technologies has signed a non-binding agreement with a service provider for the supply of two-way Ku-band antennas for aircraft over a period of seven years. Starling’s share of the proceeds from the deal, if fully executed, is put at around $60 million.

The customer is expected to place its first order, estimated to be worth $9 million to Starling, by the beginning of December.

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