ORCA re-uses fleets of airliners. By mounting sensors under the aircraft, ORCA (Optical and RF Constellations on Aircraft) can provide various Telecommunication and Earth observation services, such as monitoring the atmosphere, map climate parameters, or support Machine-to-Machine communications. The European Space Agency supports SkyfloX through project DOCS (Demonstration of ORCA Constellation Services), to develop and commercialise the ORCA concept.
After a mere nine months, SkyfloX and partners successfully completed the first phase of the ESA co-funded activity. In cooperation with various partners, technical, legal, and business aspects were extensively evaluated, all showing highly promising results. TUI fly the Netherlands, the airline of TUI Netherlands, played a key role in ORCA technical evaluations, by providing important insights into payload placement, and installation & operational procedures. SkyfloX with strategic partner Aircraft Design & Certification, an EASA approved Design Organisation (DOA), working together with TNO, T-Mobile, Tele-2, and VITO, performed flight test campaigns on AD&C’s test aircraft. Airport connectivity tests were furthermore conducted on the airport tarmac with the help of Rotterdam-The Hague Airport. End-users of the ORCA product were involved throughout the project, in order to best dimension the ORCA payload and resulting product. Lastly, a thorough legal study was conducted by Dr. Mendes de Leon, professor of Air and Space law.
SkyfloX now prepares the next steps of the ORCA development: a pilot phase under ESA co-funding, with the first installations on civil aircraft.