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TrueNorth Simphone selected for Sikorsky helicopters

10th October 2008 - 01:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


OTTAWA-based TrueNorth Avionics has secured a first forward-fit position for its Simphone cabin communications system, on Sikorsky’s S-76++ and S-76D helicopters. The company has also announced two new Simphone variants for business jets, one based on Inmarsat satcoms, the other on Iridium.

Simphone is a light, compact cabin communications system designed to allow proprietary IP multimedia handsets to communicate with the ground via WiFi cabin wireless, an IP-based private branch exchange (PBX), and both Iridium and Inmarsat.

The single-LRU system allows aircraft operators to manage all their airborne communications, both air-to-ground and intercom, through an easy-to-use menu-driven handset featuring a one-touch dialler for direct contact with the cockpit. A configuration module allows the handsets to be personalised, with individual screen images and ringtones.

The Sikorsky programme is due to start with two installations of Simphone integrated with two Iridium voice and 4kbit/sec data channels in corporate S-76s at the manufacturer’s Keystone Helicopter subsidiary in Pennsylvania. “We’re impressed with TrueNorth’s responsiveness in adapting Simphone for the S-76,” says Sikorsky spokesman Tom Schmidt-Lange. “The innovative one-touch pilot calling is an especially nice feature.”

A new package called Simphone Global Broadband sees the system integrated with Inmarsat Swift 64 64kbit/sec and SwiftBroadband 432kbit/sec hardware from Chelton Satcom of the UK. Weighing in at around 20lb, it is designed to give business aircraft operators voice plus far more data throughput than Iridium can offer, within Inmarsat’s near-global coverage. Swift 64 capability is being offered initially, with SwiftBroadband due to be available from next year.   

The package comprises a 2MCU satellite data unit, a high-power amplifier/diplexer and a high-gain antenna in addition to the single Simphone LRU. The low-profile antenna requires just a single connector, simplifying installation, and its small footprint makes it suitable for aircraft ranging in size down to light jets and turboprops.

Simphone Global Broadband is due to be available from the first quarter of next year at a price of less than $100,000.

Prelude is the label for TrueNorth’s new Iridium package for light jets. A single-LRU system offering two Iridium channels for voice or fax in its basic form, it can be upgraded to incorporate Inmarsat and cabin WiFi. Production is due to start in the first quarter of next year. The standard package, which includes the core LRU, cabin interface and two handsets, is on offer at a special introductory price of $24,900 until the end of the year.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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