"Have a nice flight" could take on a whole new meaning when addressed to users of VIP and corporate aircraft. From now on, aircraft support specialist Lufthansa Technik (LHT) would like 'nice' to mean a Networked Integrated Cabin Equipment (NICE) -configured cabin.
Working with Cisco Systems, Videon Central Inc., Qinetiq, the Innovation, Design and Engineering Organization (IDEO) and others, LHT has spent two years developing and qualifying a unique cabin management and entertainment system that delivers full broadband benefits along with the highest levels of airborne comfort. These benefits include Internet at high speed, e-mail, access to corporate networks, telephony using voice-over-IP (digitized voice sent as data, using the Internet protocol), multiple audio and video channels on demand (AVOD), high-fidelity audio reproduction, and top-quality digital entertainment.
The NICE system was unveiled at the 2003 National Business Aviation Association meeting and convention. The first NICE installation is on a Boeing Business Jet 2 belonging to Multiflight Ltd., at the behest of the operator's founder, chairman and a moving spirit behind the concept, David Hood. The cabin is now being offered to other potential BBJ2 customers as a fully certified, "standardized" product. As a result, Lufthansa Technik has become, quite distinctly, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), as well as a leading aircraft maintainer and outfitter. The company already is equipping a second BBJ and a private Boeing 747-400 with versions of its NICE cabin.
The Comforts of Home
LHT hopes, in time, to interest the air transport sector as well as bizjet operators in the product. The system readily scales to different sizes of aircraft and is available for use with the 115 volts AC, 400-Hz power used by commercial airliners and large business jets or the 28 volts DC common on smaller business aircraft.
According to Andrew Muirhead, an Australian engineer who heads LHT's innovation business unit, NICE was designed to make passengers feel as connected and comfortable in the air as they would be at home amid their personal computers, personal electronic devices (PEDs), DVDs, flat-screen displays, stereo, wireless devices and remote controls. LHT's formula for doing this, and for competing with established in-flight entertainment (IFE) platforms, is simple: