Lufthansa Technik’s latest innovations including a unique family of chairs for VIP aircraft, a pre-customised VIP cabin, and a concept for an integrated cabin interior for business jets, were very much in the spotlight at the 14th European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (Ebace), which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in May.
Describing the family of chairs dedicated to VIP and business jet aircraft as “groundbreaking and original”, Lufthansa Technik has named the product ‘chair’. Designers can adapt the seat to designated purposes and interior requirements, from basic working chairs, to lounge and dining chairs or to full flat sleeping beds. Besides weight and space savings in the cabin, ‘chair’ also offers other new features such as “active seating” for children and adults.
“On board an aircraft, the seats are the central interfaces between the passengers and the cabin,” says Andrew Muirhead, head of Lufthansa Technik’s new Original Equipment Innovation product division. “After decades in which VIP and business jet seating only changed its shape or colour, passengers want something new at the highest and most basic levels – the comfort and convenience of the most innovative cabin along with the wealth of options they know from home furnishings and more room to move freely in the cabin.”
While the technical design of ‘chair’ was developed by Lufthansa Technik, the aesthetic design of the exposed ‘chair’ versions was developed in parallel as one possible design line together with renowned aircraft interior designer Jacques Pierrejean, the Design Office Manager from Pierrejean Design Studio.
Pierrejean says: “This seat is my friend. It wears a different cover depending on the comfort I need, the situation I’m in and the culture I live in. The concept of ‘chair’ opens up an unequalled degree of freedom for cabin interior designers.”
Made in Germany in co-operation with the premium automotive supplier Dräxlmaier, all ‘chair’ configurations are based on a seat frame developed in bionic harmony with the human body and an extremely slim load-bearing primary structure. Individually sized ribs, customised upholstery of every thickness, back rests in different heights, ergonomic functions such as leg and arm rests and a variety of other flexible add-on elements produce a hitherto undreamed-of variability.
The ‘chair’ family is in the process of being certified as a 16g seat.
The new pre-customised VIP cabin showcased at Ebace will be offered for both the Airbus ACJ family and the Boeing BBJ series and is an extension of the firm’s success with modulated narrowbody VIP cabins, which started eight years ago with the Elite programme for Airbus.
The new platform-adaptable concept offers a large variety of configurations and is mission optimised with regards to cabin interior weight, seating comfort, sufficient stowage volume and the integration of client-oriented features for maximum comfort and usability, like a king-size bed, vanity table, master bathroom with full size shower and a private office.
“Lufthansa Technik has worldwide experience in pre-customised and modulated VIP aircraft cabins. There is no other completions centre which has gathered that much experience with that kind of cabin outfitting or has done this kind of work so far,” says Walter Heerdt, Senior Vice President Marketing and Sales of Lufthansa Technik. “This new product is a supplement to our current activities in this specialised completions segment. We see excellent chances to create a similar success story like the current Elite programme or others which we have done previously.”
“Within our ‘innovation boost’ we are transferring innovative solutions from our individual completions business to modular and pre-customised programmes, like the integration of our ‘chair’ seats.”
The modular cabin concept allows many possibilities to combine different cabin elements that are close to an individual cabin layout. For example, for the ACJ 319, Lufthansa Technik can offer 96 variations, and for a longer plane like the BBJ2 and other comparable aircraft, even more.
“With the variety of combinations, a price starting from $20 million and a short turnaround time of six months, this is a highly attractive new product,” Heerdt adds.
Over the course of the Elite programme, more than 20 aircraft have been completed and delivered, with one aircraft currently in the completion process at Lufthansa Technik’s US-subsidiary Bizjet International.
Additionally, Lufthansa Technik has completed 12 Bombardier Challenger 850 and four BBJs for Boeing NETJET with a pre-customised cabin in the past.
Besides narrowbodies, Lufthansa has designed and completed widebody VVIP cabin kits.
Meanwhile, Inairvation, a new 50/50 joint venture between Lufthansa Technik and List components & furniture, presented the concept for integrated business aircraft cabin interiors.
Inairvation offers complete, integrated solutions for interior fittings for business and private jets. Its services range from inflight entertainment to interior design, from wiring to lighting technology.
In the past, Lufthansa Technik has supplied the cabin management system nice HD (in-flight entertainment electronics) and List components & furniture’s high-end cabin interiors (galleys, armrests, fold-out tables, etc) independently to aircraft manufacturers. From now, when commissioned, the two companies will together implement innovations that follow the theme of ‘Technology meets Cabin’, with the aim of blending entertainment electronics, furniture and lighting together in an advanced design.
The cabin mock-up at Ebace showcased many innovations including a unique integrated LED light effect on wooden floor, sidewall, ceiling and furniture applications controlled by a cabin management system.
Inairvation’s Chief Executive Officers Dr Philip von Schroeter of Lufthansa Technik and Werner Kartner of List components & furniture say that by combining the latest technology with perfectly fabricated interior components the new company will “create cabin interiors for business jets that not only satisfy the highest visual requirements but also incorporate the latest technological developments”.
Inairvation is based in Austria and apart from working with its two joint venture partners, will collaborate with other prestigious suppliers from the areas of lighting technology (Schott) and design (DesignQ) to cover the full spectrum of cabin interior expertise.
Lufthansa Technik is significantly increasing its efforts in the area of product, service and technological developments through its ‘innovation boost’ programme. The investment in this area is to be quadrupled, from €50 million ($67.7 million) over the past five years, to €200 million ($271 million) over the next four years. Both Lufthansa Technik’s maintenance, repair and overhaul business and the company’s VIP and Executive Jet business will benefit from this new approach.