Lufthansa Technik rolls out new innovations for the market
You wake up at 40,000 feet to the sound of sizzling eggs emanating from the gallery as your chef cooks them sunny side up, just as you like. Meanwhile, the lights above you come to life almost magically as soon as you reach for your tablet and browse the web as effortlessly as you would in your office.
Innovations that high flyers dared only dream of a few years ago are fast becoming a reality thanks to aviation specialists like Lufthansa Technik, who continue to take technology to another plane on corporate, personal and commercial jets.
Earlier this year, the German firm announced that it has started series production on its induction cooking platform, which was launched as a concept last year. The platform, which can include rice cookers and toasters, fits easily into an aircraft’s galley thanks to its compact dimensions (570 x 269 x 4 mm – ARINC size 4 and installation variants).
Weighing a mere 13.5 kg, the platform comes with a power unit, exhaust fan and special cover and locking systems to ensure that pots and pans remain in place even during turbulence.
With this innovation, Lufthansa Technik says fresh food can now be prepared on board quickly, safely, cleanly and economically. From the perfect fried egg to a sizzling steak, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cooking on board!
Lufthansa Technik first unveiled the induction cooker at the 2016 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, in conjunction with the Germany’s hs2 engineering. There, the concept found favour among VIP customers and commercial airlines and also made the shortlist for the expo’s Crystal Cabin Awards, considered the Oscars of the aircraft interiors industry.
“Conversations with potential customers, flight attendants and cooks enabled us to adapt the cooking platform precisely to users’ needs and we’ve now launched this product on the market,” says Miriam Fontius, a Project Manager at Lufthansa Technik’s Original Equipment Innovation division.
“A number of applications enable not only cooking with pots and pans, but also the use of a special rice cooker with different settings and a toaster,” he adds.
Smarter cabins too are on the radar: under a project codenamed Cabin 4.0, Lufthansa Technik experts are looking at how intelligent automation could make life easier for both passenger and crew. Take, for instance, lights that come on automatically when you reach out for your newspaper or tablet, something that its technicians hope to achieve through the use of intelligent sensors.
Such technology already exists, but it’s hardly widely used inside a plane, as Lufthansa Technik points out. While most passenger cars, for example, have sensors to check if the trunk is closed properly, baggage compartments in an aircraft are still manually checked by the crew.
“We don’t just want to replace the traditional reading lamp with LED lighting that can be turned on and off with a smartphone,” explains Sven Taubert, Corporate Innovation Manager at Lufthansa Technik. “We want the reading lamp to recognise independently when the passenger opens a magazine. If the passenger then decides to watch a film instead, the same lamp could provide that information via optical transmission. This increases passenger comfort and, at the same time, relieves the on-board WLAN networks.”
Backed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), development work inside a cabin is now set to begin at the ZAL TechCenter in Hamburg under the direction of Taubert.
Lufthansa Technik’s team will also talk to different cabin users – from cleaning staff and caterers to flight attendants, technicians and passengers – to see what other areas of the cabin can be made smarter or digitised.
“To get a better understanding of their needs, we slip into each of these roles ourselves for a while. Currently, we hardly have any data available from inside the cabin. That is why the first step is to take a close look at which cabin-related information is useful enough that it makes sense to collect it automatically. This allows us to gain insights that will lead to the concrete development of new systems and services,” he concludes.
Lufthansa Technik is also on a tear when it comes to a need for wi-fi speed, and its VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services in Hamburg has already equipped several VIP aircraft – including Boeing 737 jets, an Airbus A340 and an A330 – with Ka-band technology, which allows passengers to browse the internet at the fastest speeds currently available on the market.
Thomas Decher, Vice President VIP Maintenance & Modifications, nonchalantly describes the integration and approval of what is presently the fastest internet connection on board as a “routine” affair.
“The fact that we are integrating Ka-band so smoothly shows that the experience we have accumulated and the wide range of types covered has made us a preferred partner for an integration solution for the fastest connectivity system,” Decher says.
In addition to the physical installation, the work includes aeronautical and regulatory work, conversion planning and materials supply, the manufacture of diverse high-end components such as WLAN access points, the supply of materials, and repair of defective components.
Lufthansa Technik is also currently equipping Lufthansa’s A320 family with Ka-band technology. As many as 32 aircraft per month are being upgraded, and this figure will rise to well over 200 aircraft by spring 2018.
Lufthansa Technik holds Supplement Type Certificates (STCs) for system installation for the A320 family, the A330, the A340 and the Boeing 737 family. In addition, it holds a STC for all Boeing Business Jets BBJ1 (737-700) and BBJ2 (737-800) for its proprietary development, the TIOS (Two-In-One-Solution) antenna radome, which likewise enables the use of Ka-band and optimum high-speed internet and TV connections on board.
“Our expertise as a production and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) organisation is helpful here as well,” Bucher points out. “We have a strong partner in Lufthansa Systems, which delivers parts of the aircraft’s IT infrastructure on the basis of its digital BoardConnect platform.”
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