Posted on: 06 November 2014 by Mark Howells
I’ve heard multiple members of the airline and in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) industries say that certifying technology for use on-board aircraft makes it difficult to stay up-to-date with the latest devices, but Lufthansa Systems(LHS)may have found a solution.Norbert Müller, senior VP of Board Connect at Lufthansa Systems , explained to Inflight-Online.com, “Embedded IFE offerings normally have long operations (approx. 10 years) of in-seat screens. This often results in fast over aging and weak performance.”
To break down this barrier, the company revealed a prototype of its new seat integrated tablet solution at the APEX conference in Anaheim in September, which Müller describes as “a transparent plastic cover (polycarbonate or similar) that needs to be closed only during the critical flight phases (taxi, take-off and landing).
This plastic cover is what has to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Head Industry Criteria (more commonly known as HIC), whilst the tablet inside can be switched in order to accommodate the latest technology. Müller confirmed that once they have finished tweaking the prototype, the HIC will follow.
“The cover closes like a shade that is pulled up by the passenger,” Müller continued. “Even airlines which prefer a seat-integrated IFE solution will now be able to bring trends in the entertainment industry into their aircraft. With our product, they can integrate the latest tablets in their seats without going through lengthy approval and certification procedures. Outdated in-flight entertainment is a thing of the past.”When Inflight-Online.com askedMüllerhow much money and time Lufthansa Systems’ new innovation could save, he replied, “The implementation of the seat integrated tablet solution is much more cost efficient. It doesn’t need any complex wiring and therefore requires less maintenance. Also, it only needs a few Wi-Fi access points in the cabin depending on the size of the aircraft. In view of testing, we are planning with only one certification of the modified seat, which does not need to get repeated when the airlines update to a new generation of tablets.”This new invention from Lufthansa Systems also provides a broader platform for its Board Connect wireless IFE streaming solution, which can already be adapted to suit an airline’s own content and design. Board Connect can now be embedded in the seat-back rather than just on passengers’ personal electronic devices. It also acts as a connectivity service, allowing passengers to access internet in-flight.
The prototype currently has a patent pending, but when asked if they knew the timescale for the product entering the market, Müller kept his cards close to his chest, simply responding, “We are looking for a launch customer and are in talks with multiple airlines.”
Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com