At this year`s National Business Aviation Association`s (NBAA) 56th Annual Meeting & Convention in Orlando, Florida, Lufthansa Technik is launching its new product nice(TM)—networked integrated cabin equipment—which will set new standards for cabin management and entertainment systems onboard of business and executive jets. The system has been jointly developed with Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO) and Videon.
Lufthansa Technik`s nice(TM) will displace conglomerated in-flight entertainment systems with numerous separate networks that distribute entertainment and control cabin functions. nice(TM) controls all cabin functions and distributes audio/video and data on one digital Ethernet network over a 1000BaseTX uplink and 13.6 Gigabyte backbone.
Lufthansa Technik`s nice(TM) features latest technologies such as voice over IP with interfaces to existing off-aircraft communications, a wireless control and command structure over an IEEE 802.11b network for which Lufthansa Technik has been granted a supplemental type certificate (STC). It is the first time an aviation company has gained approval for installing a wireless radio connection inside an airplane cabin. nice(TM) also employs enhanced passenger control units, such as a wireless, intuitive, easy to use and highly configurable Graphical User Interface (GUI) or a memory stick which supports system pre-sets and authentication/registration for fractional owners.
Lufthansa Technik`s nice(TM) cabin management and entertainment system is certified, installed and already flying today on a Boeing Business Jet 2 of a private customer. nice(TM) is also the standard on all airplanes being redelivered by Lufthansa Technik`s Completion Center. The engineers from Hamburg are offering the system to the general aviation market for installation at other completion centers or OEM manufacturing centers. Unlike other in-flight entertainment solutions, nice(TM) is available in two versions: one for large jets based on commercial airliners with 115 VAC 400 Hz and one for the general business aviation with 28 VDC.
The nice(TM) system`s integrated modular architecture allows Lufthansa Technik to test the system and deliver it ready for aircraft installation. These modular units or functional blocks containing core functionality are installed as LRUs to pre-wired connectors. In addition to an easy initial installation, troubleshooting is simple and kept to a minimum, enabling less time spent integrating the system at a completion center. The Ethernet based system requires less wiring and is lighter than competing systems. Due to the fact that nice(TM) is highly configurable it allows plug-and-play system upgrades. The system employs a solid state DHCP server that assigns addresses to LRUs that are added to the network, requiring no wire changes. In addition, maintenance is simple since the system is easily supported.
“With nice(TM) Lufthansa Technik becomes an OEM for the first time in the company`s history. We will deliver our customers the latest technology, ready-to-fly with the quality and labeling `Made by Lufthansa Technik` supported by our highly experienced partners Cisco Systems and Videon,” explains Bernhard Conrad, Senior Vice President Engineering and Production Lufthansa Technik Completion Center and Head of approved design organization.
The launch of nice(TM) is the latest development in the partnership between Lufthansa Technik and Cisco Systems who have been working together for over two years on creating solutions to help business travellers on commercial airliners and in business jets. Their shared vision is to give travelers the ability to remain connected to business critical applications—even when they are in the air. nice(TM) was developed by Lufthansa Technik together with Cisco Systems to create a standardized Ethernet networked architecture for an aircraft cabin, offering a range of cabin management, communication, business and entertainment applications to passengers and flight crews while meeting all specific industry legislations and certifications.
“With nice(TM) an aircraft cabin becomes an extension of a regular intranet or as an insertion point to all the information available on the World Wide Web. An aircraft becomes just another node on the network but in the air. The nice(TM) architecture offers a cost effective, easy to maintain, secure network on which competitive services—Internet access, news and entertainment and telephony—can be offered,” explained Duncan Mitchell, Vice President, EMEA, Cisco Systems who is the executive sponsor for transport within Cisco Systems EMEA.
Cisco Systems is providing the technology for the onboard network with ruggerdised switch designs, which will provide Ethernet connectivity inside the cabin, compliant wireless access points throughout the cabins, and IP telephony solutions to enable communication within the cabin and to the ground via satellite. The Cisco standard designs are adapted, tested and certified by Lufthansa Technik in order to meet civil aviation regulations.
Lufthansa Technik is also working together with Videon to bring cutting edge digital video & audio solutions reliably to the aircraft cabin. This relationship is being enhanced to bring further state of the art technologies to the aircraft.
Todd Erdley, CEO of Videon explained: “This is just the first step in a technology relationship between Lufthansa Technik and Videon that will leverage Videon`s relationship with semiconductor manufacturers to ensure the most leading edge products are brought to Lufthansa Technik and the nice(TM) system. Our goal is to lead the adoption of advanced video/audio technology in the aircraft prior to it becoming available in the home. Together with Lufthansa Technik we have laid a solid foundation through the introduction of nice(TM)”.
The relationship between Lufthansa Technik and Videon will be enhanced in the form of further teaming in the areas of development and manufacturing during 2004. A MoU is being signed today between the two organisations to further solidify this successful partnership.
Example components of nice(TM) - networked integrated cabin equipment—are: Lufthansa Technik`s universal DVD/CD player, which is capable of playing all formats of CDs and DVDs and producing a Hi-Fi audio output, a digital output, component video and a composite video output. On top of that list it delivers digital MPEG2 streams straight out of the unit, onto the network. The MP3 player supports multiple channels of stereo audio randomly from pre-selected directories containing thousands of MP3 files on the aircraft file server, making it possible to create and recall many play lists. This leads to the unexcelled comfort of quick and easy access to music for all tastes and moods anywhere at anytime. An Audio/Video file server provides storage for MP3 files, a video streaming server to provide audio/video on demand and a map server for a new moving map display. A multinorm VHS standard video cassette player is capable of playing NTSC 3.58, NTSC 4.43, PAL and SECAM video formats and producing a Hi-Fi audio output and a composite video output. It also delivers MPEG2 video and audio straight out to the network. Other components available for the system are smart LCD displays from 6.5” to 30” (with built in MPEG decoding and image enhancement), passenger control units with capacitive switches and/or touchscreens, plug-in seat display units (6” and 10”), speakers, surround processors, amplifiers and cabin system controllers. All devices are Ethernet controlled.