Updated with new info…
An announcement today from Lufthansa Systems that the firm is bringing a new wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution to German holiday carrier Condor’s Boeing 767s begs all sorts of questions.
You’ll recall, no doubt, that Boeing originally intended to offer wireless IFE on the 787, and Panasonic and Thales created solutions for the US airframer, but well-documented challenges persisted.
I’m told today by Lufthansa Systems that a broadband connection is not necessary. Indeed the firm is right now demonstrating its solution on 80 netbooks (and only two access points) at the ITB show in Berlin. Lufthansa Systems is using 802.11n as its standard for aircraft.
I’ll have more later concerning the burning questions about content licensing. If you have any private thoughts about this announcement, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All emails are confidential.
Here’s the original statement. More later.
Condor and Lufthansa Systems take off with the next generation of in-flight entertainment
World premiere at ITB: In-flight entertainment via WiFi
On-board entertainment is an important part of an airline’s service for tourists and business travelers alike. At the ITB, Lufthansa Systems presents BoardConnect, its cost-efficient new in-flight entertainment (IFE) system which opens up a new world of opportunities for on-board communication. Condor will be the first airline to install BoardConnect on its Boeing 767 aircraft.
The innovative infotainment system is based on a WiFi network which passengers can log on to through seat-back screens or their own laptops, tablet PCs, smart phones or other WiFi-enabled devices to access a wide range of video and audio on demand, games and other content. BoardConnect also makes it possible for airlines to offer new forms of customer communication, information and services. New services can generate additional revenues for airlines, and airlines can also customize their contact with each passenger.
“In-flight entertainment is an important part of the travel experience and a way to stand out from the competition, particularly in the tourism industry,” said Rainer Kröpke, Head of Project Management and Marketing at Condor Flugdienst GmbH. “BoardConnect opens up entirely new possibilities for us. In addition, the system costs much less to install and operate than other solutions.”
Unlike conventional IFE systems, BoardConnect does not need to be wired into every seat. The cabin of a Boeing 767, for example, will only need five access points which are connected to a central server.
“The system is much easier to install because there is no wiring required. It can be integrated during a regular maintenance check, so there’s no need for extra downtime,” said Dr. Jörg Liebe, CIO of Lufthansa Systems AG. “BoardConnect is also very reliable and gives airlines maximum flexibility as regards cabin rearrangement, the integration of new technologies and the development of new services.”
The elimination of wiring and data distribution hardware can lead to weight savings of nearly half a ton for a Boeing 767-300. This reduces annual fuel consumption by around
20 tonnes per aircraft.
To create this pioneering IFE solution, Lufthansa Systems drew on its experience with the Mobile Infotainment System which it developed for cruise ships. The technology behind BoardConnect is not restricted to the aviation industry; it can also be used on other forms of public transportation, such as trains, buses and ferries.
On aircraft equipped with broadband Internet access, passengers can also surf the Web, send and receive e-mail and interact with friends on social networks. Airlines can also provide individual passengers with information about their connecting flights or offers tailored personally to them.