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Lufthansa Systems acquires new customers for its digital BoardConnect platform


Lufthansa Systems
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Lufthansa Systems acquires new customers for its digital BoardConnect platform

Use cases at Azul Linhas Aéreas, EL AL, Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa Group airlines demonstrate the flexibility of the BoardConnect product suite

Azul Linhas Aéreas (Azul) is the first american customer for BoardConnect Portable, EL AL has opted for the portable version in addition to BoardConnect Classic, and the installation of the connectivity solution for Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa is progressing. BoardConnect Portable has also been successfully implemented for Air Dolomiti. This wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution from Lufthansa Systems will soon be in use on more than 300 aircraft worldwide. The corresponding app has been downloaded over 5 million times. Lufthansa Systems is therefore heading into the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg this week (April 4–6) with a series of success stories as well as numerous new features to present for its BoardConnect and mCabin product suites.

“Our current projects show how multifaceted our digital BoardConnect platform is – in terms of hardware versions, but also as regards content,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems. “Our goal is to fully meet the individual requirements of each customer with a tailored IFE solution. BoardConnect continues to impress with its extremely high rates of reliability, and it is receiving very positive feedback from passengers.”

As the first customer in South America, the Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul opted for the flexible version BoardConnect Portable at the end of 2016 in order to offer wireless in-flight entertainment on its new A320neo fleet. After just two months for the implementation and clarification of local issues, the IFE solution based on BoardConnect Portable is now being used on the new aircraft under the name of Azul Play. A permanently installed IFE solution will follow later. Then BoardConnect Portable will be used rotating on other parts of the airline’s fleet. This is where the fast and easy installation and removal of the solution pays off, because the BoardConnect Portable hardware has no effect on other components in the aircraft and requires no complicated certification. And Azul passengers can still enjoy a reliable entertainment system.

EL AL has been a BoardConnect customer for several years. The Israeli airline currently has 18 Boeing 737/767 aircraft equipped with BoardConnect Classic and is also offering its passengers broadband Internet on some of these aircraft, which has been realized by Lufthansa Systems together with ViaSat. Besides, EL AL has ordered additional sets of BoardConnect Portable as well. These comprise three MSUs each. An MSU can supply up to 50 passengers with top-quality streamed content. This means that at a user rate of 50 percent EL AL can equip a wide-body jet such as a B747 or B777 with a single set of MSUs. Which aircraft will be equipped can be decided at short notice since the portable solution is fast and easy to install. The aircraft are due to be fitted this spring. There are no visible differences between BoardConnect Classic and Portable for passengers. The user interface, functions and content are the same. EL AL will also benefit from the standardized handling and simple harmonization of the IFE content.

Air Dolomiti has been using BoardConnect Portable since the end of last year. A total of 11 Embraer 190 aircraft have been fitted with the solution. The Italian airline does not offer movies, but instead focuses on newspapers and magazines. It thus saves a considerable amount of money through weight reductions and less administration.

The other airlines in the Lufthansa Group are currently focusing on offering broadband Internet on their short- and medium-haul flights to give passengers the greatest possible variety in enjoying individual entertainment on board. Austrian Airlines is planning to have its own 31 A320 aircraft equipped with broadband this spring. Initially, a total of 69 aircraft of Eurowings will gradually migrate from BoardConnect Portable to BoardConnect Plus with an Internet connection by January 2018. Additionally, both airlines offer inflight entertainment based on BoardConnect including movies, TV series, music and games. For Lufthansa the implementation is progressing as well. The airline has already fitted 16 aircraft, with its entire A320 fleet due to be equipped with the new connectivity solution by the summer of 2018.

Lufthansa Systems is offering its connectivity solution together with Lufthansa Technik and the global satellite operator Inmarsat. The three companies have established a long-term partnership to offer a modern, multifunction on-board IT platform with broadband Internet access on other airlines inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group as well.

Lufthansa Systems’ growing customer base in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity sector reflects the trend toward increased digitalization in the aircraft. “Passengers expect the same entertainment experience on board as they have on the ground – in terms of movies and TV shows, better audio quality, communication options and fast Internet,” Müller said. “We help airlines meet their passengers’ expectations. There continues to be a lot of interest in BoardConnect, and we’re talking with many potential customers and working on new implementations already.”

Caption (Copyright: Manfred Nerlich): The BoardConnect enables passengers of several new customers to enjoy inflight-entertainment on their own devices.