Lufthansa retrofits Rave across long-haul fleet

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Lufthansa will retrofit the Rave inflight entertainment (IFE) platform on up to 80 long-haul aircraft, says IMS, the California-based manufacturer of the system.

The airline says that it will outfit its Boeing 747-400s, Airbus A330-300s and A340-300/-600s with Rave by spring 2013.

Harry Gray, IMS' vice president sales and marketing, says that the California-based IFE manufacturer had been testing one of the systems on a single Boeing 747-400 Lufthansa aircraft before this deal.

According to the airline, economy passengers will use a touch-screen version of the Rave in economy class, while the business and first classes will use a remote control.

The Rave is considered a "seat-centric" IFE system because each seatback display unit has its own docking station for power and individually contains entertainment content on one or two SD cards within the unit.

This type of architecture eliminates electronics and distribution boxes to power the screens and the problem of one faulty IFE display taking out a whole row of screens. A system control unit pushes new content to the units while passengers are in flight.

Gray says that IMS now has 10 airline customers signed up to retrofit their aircraft with Rave, which is currently flying on 15 aircraft. He says that the company has a backlog of more than 160 aircraft, with more orders coming by the end of 2012. These contracts are exclusively for upgrades on older aircraft.

"Right now it's a retrofit market for us," Gray said, but he notes that IMS is also interested in capturing the forward-fit market further down the road.