NBAA2010: Lufthansa Technik and Panasonic in JV for bizjet IFEC/CMS

Combining Panasonic’s experience with commercial air transports with Lufthansa Technik’s experience in the business aviation market is the idea behind the two companies’ new joint venture announced at the National Business Aircraft Association Convention in Atlanta.

Lufthansa Technik chair of the Executive Board, August Henningsen, and Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis signed the letter of intent which establishes a joint venture company for the development, manufacture and sale of inflight entertainment and communications and cabin management systems for VIP aircraft.

Once established, the joint venture will make optimum use of Panasonic’s and Lufthansa Technik’s sets of knowledge, experience and expertise to design and develop new, innovative, CMS/IFEC solutions for such aircraft.

The companies declared that “it was time for a fresh idea on how CMS/IFEC systems are designed for VIP aircraft”. The new company will be separately branded but neither company would give any details about the new brand.

The products to be developed will cross fertilize the best of the best from the airline industry with that of the business industry to develop something new. Margis said that advanced developments of the joint venture could migrate to the commercial sector.

Products will be based on Panasonic’s X Series commercial IFE system, its Global Communications Suite – eXConnect and eXPhone – and Lufthansa Technik’s nice CMS/IFEC system developed by the company’s Innovation Business Unit. The JV’s efforts will primarily aimed at narrowbody and widebody, VIP aircraft and will provide digital distribution, high definition media playback, iPod and iPhone controls, remote maintenance, high-speed connectivity, ipTV, media and game libraries.

“By combining and enhancing Panasonic’s high definition X Series product line with Lufthansa Technik’s state-of-the-art, easy-to-use nice system, the new joint venture will create an experience that will exceed the expectations of even the most discerning customers,” Margis predicted.

Margis told Inflight that Panasonic would be working with content developers to put together packages for VIP aircraft. “For the VIP market we want to be able to offer a full turnkey content package including the licensing,” he said. “We want to bring content unique to that market including early-window content. That means the security and digital rights will be included. But we have to have a broad library including classic movies. It’s analogous to looking into someone’s iPod. That covers a massive spectrum including children’s programming. But it is also very important to have live content such as sports and news.”

Henningsen said that the systems developed under the joint venture will also be sold to other completion centres instead of being offered exclusively through Lufthansa Technik. He also said that he did not know the size of the VIP market that could be captured for the new product.

“We appreciate the collaboration with Panasonic in developing CMS/IFEC systems to provide advanced features for our VIP customers,” remarked Henningsen. “We believe the combinations of these two great systems and the combined experience of both companies in commercial and private aviation will provide the cutting-edge system for VIP aircraft.”

Kathryn Creedy, US correspondent, Inflight/Inflight Online

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