Lufthansa Technik (Booth 2881) is charting its “journey to the future” along the line of incremental innovation and is inviting NBAA-BACE attendees this week to witness and experience some of the advancements for themselves. Wassef Ayadi, LHT’s Senior Director of Customer Relations, OEM and Special Engineering Services, said the development of LHT’s Cabin Management System (CMS), Nice (for network-integrated cabin equipment) and Sustainability Programs has received much attention.
He noted that many of these technologies have been successfully installed in VIP aircraft cabins, “but we wanted to show that all of these innovations may also be applicable to smaller aircraft.” Models of cabin sections at the LHT booth, which served as a demonstration platform for some of these technologies, were presented by the company’s latest Versions of Nice CMS are supported. It is standard equipment on the Bombardier Challenger 3500, which entered service last month and will make its NBAA-BACE debut this week at a static display (AD_310).
The upgraded Nice CMS employs advanced AI-driven voice commands to control cabin equipment, embodying LHT’s goal of bringing home and office-like experiences to the sky. But unlike other speech recognition systems, Nice voice commands do not require an internet connection – all software is self-contained in the CMS. The LHT is continuing to develop a library of commands that the multilingual system can handle.
But the biggest change to the system is now happening on a larger scale as NiceOS “a customer-centric and cloud-based open software platform.” According to Ayadi, “It’s an open platform concept. The scenario we’re heading towards is purely a software revolution, just like what’s happening in the iPhone world.”
While the next generation of CMS hardware will follow major technological advancements, all temporary upgrades will be software based and applicable to current and recent generations of Nice. For end users, the upgraded Nice will support customization and remote system configuration over the Internet, allowing OEMs and operators to create their own branded versions of the CMS and make configuration changes in-flight or on specific flights. This will provide a “personalized experience in the cabin environment,” he said.
As with his iPhone analogy, “Obviously, if the device doesn’t support a feature, the old system won’t be as robust,” Ayadi said. “But that will ensure you have the latest operating system and a reasonable set of features.”
In the model, a small virtual cabin environment allows visitors to put on a virtual reality device and try to activate the cabin systems.
The technical integration in the cabin includes a curved OLED screen, mounted in a wall-mounted structure, composed of lightweight recyclable materials, created in collaboration with Austrian interior design specialists F/List.
Another collaboration product on display at the LHT booth, Aeroflax is a flax-based alternative to fiberglass or carbon fiber parts such as side walls and ceilings. LHT, together with German MRO Bcomp, has developed a renewable lightweight material composed of flax fibers and bio-resin. LHT states that flax is easy to grow, has a low fabric density and good mechanical properties, while being 20% lighter than glass or carbon fibers. It also meets flammability standards thanks to a proprietary blend of flame retardant additives.
Meanwhile, the skin of the “shark” model on display is actually the AeroShark drag-reducing coating that LHT is developing. AeroShark acts as a biomimetic membrane that mimics the hydrodynamic drag reduction properties of shark skin. By optimizing airflow, the coating has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 1 percent, reducing costs and carbon footprint, according to LHT.
LHT is also considering future eVTOL and air taxi interiors, and the technology showcased at NBAA-BACE this week has put the company at the forefront of defining look, feel and function, Ayadi said. “You can use all these hybrid curved screens in that environment.”