What Are the Common Antennas Found on Aircraft?

While an aircraft is traversing the sky, it must be able to maintain communication with ATC operators, collect important weather and global positioning data, receive internet connectivity for crew and passenger use, and much more. All of these functions are made possible through the use of various antennas that are situated across the body of the aircraft, each of which serves a unique function. In this blog, we will discuss the various aircraft antennas that are featured on modern aircraft and their individual functionalities.

Communications Antennas

The communication antennas are some of the most important types that are present on the aircraft, and they are generally placed on top of or below the fuselage where they will not be affected by shadowing. Every communications transmitter will use its own antenna, and their placement ensures optimal radio coverage. Typically, the top antenna is used when the aircraft is on the ground, while the bottom antenna ensures communication while in the air.

Radio Altimeters

For pilots to safely operate an aircraft, they must maintain constant awareness of their altitude. While the pitot-static system is often used for altitude readings, many aircraft also take advantage of radio altimeters that utilize a radar antenna that is placed on the bottom of the fuselage. The aviation radar system works by sending a radar signal toward the ground, and upon bouncing back up to the aircraft, the distance to the ground can be calculated through the time between transmission and receival. It is important that a radar antenna is well secured to ensure correct readings.

Navigation Antennas

Navigation antennas utilize radio frequencies for the means of navigation, and such antennas may communicate over a wider variation of frequency ranges as compared to voice communication. Navigation antennas come in three distinct variations: a cat whisker type that juts out from the sides of the stabilizer at 45-degree angles, a dual blade antenna set on the sides of the tail, and a towel bar that is placed on both sides of the tail to support RNAV systems.

GPS Antennas

GPS antennas allow for communication with the Global Positioning System (GPS) network, an indispensable tool for safe navigation and chart plotting. GPS antennas are generally situated at the top of the fuselage, and because their emitted signals are weak as a result of low wattage, they are paired with built-in amplifiers. Communications antennas are known to cause heavy interference with GPS signals, so the two antennas should be placed as far apart from one another as possible.

Loran Antennas

For long-range navigation, loran antennas are commonly installed on aircraft. While having a similar appearance to communication antennas, loran antennas contain a different internal design and an amplifier. As loran systems are prone to effects of P-static, the airframe should be optimally bonded to prevent static buildup from adverse weather conditions.


Alongside the aforementioned examples, aircraft may have other various antennas situated across their fuselage, and operators should ensure their well-being and functionality for the safety of flight operations. If you need antenna parts like an electromagnetic actuator, radiation panel air components, or other such items, look no further than Plane Parts 360. Plane Parts 360 is a website owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, and we present customers access to over 2 billion items that have been sourced from leading manufacturers that we trust. If you happen to be facing a time constraint and need parts fast, rest assured that we expedite the shipping process for domestic and international customers alike with our expansive supply chain network stretching across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Begin the purchasing process today with a competitive quote for your comparisons that you may receive through the submission of an RFQ form as provided on our website.


August 7, 2019

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