The International Communications Group (ICG) participated in a series of test flights to demonstrate new-generation "paint-on" antenna technology using a unique SA-60 spherical airship designed for high-altitude research.
The goal was to demonstrate new, light-weight conformal "paint-on" antenna technology for high-altitude communications through the Iridium global satellite network. The antennas successfully transmitted Iridium voice and data calls from various locations on the airship with outstanding radio frequency performance and bit error rates.
ICG flew a four-channel Iridium aircraft communication package on the airship. In addition to qualifying similar performance between the paint-on antenna and standard FAA/TSO-qualified aircraft antennas, ICG demonstrated remote bi-directional data file transfers between the airship and various ground locations. Of particular note was the ability of the communications package to host multi-party airborne connections among geographically separated ground locations, establishing the relay capability resident on the airship.