MIAMI— If Californian inflight entertainment challenger Lumexis has its way, its next-generation on-demand seatback inflight entertainment will appear on more short-range, narrowbody aircraft starting from as soon as next year.
The company is fresh from achieving linefit approval from Boeing for the airframer’s current Boeing 737 Next Generation and future 737 MAX models for its lightweight yet power-packed FTTS (Fiber To The Screen) inflight entertainment.
Lumexis’ FTTS is a revolutionary product, impressive in person when we’ve experienced it at trade shows over the last couple of years, and linefit — where airlines can select to receive their brand new aircraft with the system already on board — is a significant step forward for the company challenging the big guns of inflight entertainment like Panasonic Avionics and Thales.
“Achieving linefit on both the 737 NG and MAX is a significant step forward for Lumexis,” Lumexis’ Norris tells us, “as it gives us access to a market of more than 500 new Boeing 737 aircraft a year at current production rates (with those build rates increasing year-on-year). In addition, it reinforces our position as one of the major IFE system suppliers and increases our standing and credibility within the retrofit market as well as with other airframers.”
The FTTS technology developed by Lumexis is fascinating in its implications. “Optical fibers are flexible, transparent cords made of a pure glass, or silica, not much wider than human hair,” the company explains. “Fiber optic technology is the transmission of data – via light – between two ends of a fiber. Due to the immense advantages that fiber optic technology offers, fibers are replacing metal/copper wires in a host of various technologies – telecommunications, military, and now… inflight entertainment. In addition to being extraordinarily lightweight, fibers have the capability to deliver data and content at an ultra high bandwidth. Furthermore, they may be routed anywhere, they are easy to install, immune to electromagnetic (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), and incredibly durable and flexible.”
Lumexis’ technology changes the cost-benefit calculation for airlines. If, as Lumexis suggests, its systems are sixty percent lighter than existing inflight entertainment systems, and they include the ancillary and retail options that airlines now require, on-demand IFE starts looking more attractive to carriers — and it’s more likely to appear on your flights.
“Only FTTS is proven in-service to support full cabin streaming of HD video content to 500+ passengers simultaneously,” Norris tells us. While even Ryanair won’t be fitting that many people on a 737, narrowbody aircraft should be no problem for a system that is stress-tested for widebodies.
The amount of data that FTTS can handle also brings benefits for international travellers, people with sight impairments, people who are hard of hearing and the Deaf community. “FTTS is the perfect system to both entertain airline passengers (featuring dynamic language and Closed Caption selections from dozens of available languages) and to maximize ancillary revenue for services and products,” Norris says.
Already installed via retrofitting on UAE airline Flydubai and Russian airline Transaero, having the system linefit makes it much more attractive for carriers.
“Lead-time between cabin definition and aircraft delivery is typically 11-12 months for single-aisle aircraft and is agreed between the airframer and the respective airline,” Norris notes. “737 customers (both for Next-Generation and MAX versions) can choose FTTS from the respective catalogs today for their upcoming deliveries.”
Lumexis President and Chief Operating Officer Lou Sharkey adds, “This will make Lumexis the first new IFE company to be approved by Boeing in many years. We are immeasurably pleased and appreciative of this recognition.”