Two years after being announced as the 10th airline customer for The IMS Company’s RAVE IFE solution in June 2012, Lufthansa says approximately 20 long-haul aircraft have now been equipped with the seat-centric system, which is now provided through IMS owner Zodiac Aerospace. The German carrier will install the RAVE audio/video on demand system on 80 aircraft in total.
“It [installation] started in June 2013 on the A330, then the A340s followed,” says Aage Duenhaupt, director of group communication at Lufthansa. “The 747-400 will be next.” RAVE is replacing aged Rockwell Collins IFE.
The new systems will be found in all classes of service, including about two thirds of Lufthansa’s new Premium Economy class cabins, which are set for guaranteed availability on the airline’s 747-400 jumbos from 10 December 2014.
However about a third of the new Premium Economy seats (mainly those on Lufthansa’s A380s, 747-8s and some of its A330 aircraft) feature Panasonic Avionics IFE systems.
By late April next year, all Premium Economy upgrades are expected to be complete. It will be a full half-year later, somewhere in the fall of 2015, before all RAVE system installations are complete.
We are not likely, however, to see embedded systems on board Lufthansa’s short or medium-haul fleet any time soon. The airline has opted to do what many carriers have done and instead installed wireless IFE, in this instance Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect product, which enables streaming pre-loaded content to passenger’s own devices.
Lufthansa Systems announced last week that BoardConnect had recorded one million app downloads, as passengers on Lufthansa, Virgin Australia and El Al avail themselves of the wireless service on their tablets, laptops and smart phones.
“First we will use it [BoardConnect] on 10-20 airplanes, mostly the A321, going on longer medium routes like Tel Aviv, Cairo and maybe into Russia,” says Lufthansa’s Duenhaupt. “At a certain stage you could have a thought if there should be [inflight] connectivity to the outside world, but right now the product is not in this way prepared.”