Sometimes we love our work… and this is one of those stories. Covering companies like Lumexis is one for the story books because they are the “IFE Mouse that Roared.” For at least 5 years now, we have been writing about Rich Salter Jr. and Doug Cline and their dream to develop a lighter weight, higher bandwidth IFE system based on fiber optic connectivity and we could not be happier for them. IFExpress covered their escapades from development boxes to show floor rumors and at this year’s AIX in Hamburg, it looks like they won all the marbles: first customer and Crystal Cabin Award. Ah, life is good.

Their first customer, flydubai, is a low cost Arab Emirates airline offering low cost fares to-and-from Dubai with only one-way tickets that are tax inclusive. All extra services are separate and passengers know exactly what they get for their money… nice touch! Pictured in the story is the CEO of flydubai and Doug Cline, President Lumexis. We talked with Mr. Ghaith Al Ghaith, airline CEO and he told us that their 44 B737-800’s will be post delivery modified in the US and that each seat will have a Lumexis display that acts as an entertainment portal with credit card swipe capability. Obviously, their revenue generation model is part of the airline operating network and plays into the airline financial modeling. With routes as long as 4.5 hours, the airline has a perfect product to interface with their customers. Snacks, food, duty free all will be ordered through the Lumexis system, easing crew work load and further automating the aircraft as part of the airline network. Think of it as an onboard accountant. The airline CEO told us that they chose Lumexis because the system was simple and powerful, yet light-weight. We were surprised to find out that the system weight boiled down to 4.4 pounds per seat and is a very impressive number that we heard from the airline and Lumexis alike. Installation ease and maintenance were also mentioned as features, probably because the airline sees value in quick turn-arounds and overnight maintenance. First delivery is in October of 2010 – Stay Tuned.

Also, we note that the Aircraft Interiors Crystal Cabin IFEC Award went to Lumexis and their fiber optic entertainment system and they are quite proud, as you can imagine. The award is for innovative aircraft cabin products, and the prize in the Entertainment and Communication category was won by Lumexis Corporation for its Fiber-To-The-Screen™ system, as the first fully fiber-optics based In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system. It was cited that the system eliminates the seat electronics box and half the other boxes required by legacy systems, and thereby reduces the weight and cost of ownership. Huge bandwidth is provided by the fiber network to each seat, so that future functionality can be added over the life of the aircraft.

iPad Hoopla Update: Re last week’s IFExpress article – Here is what we have discovered to further round out the Jetstar/iPad story – Jetstar is purchasing the iPads directly from Apple. Their Content Services Provider, Stellar Inflight, commissioned Bluebox to repurpose the devices for IFE. The rental price is purported to be A$10, US$8.40.

HAMBURG, Germany – 18 May 2010 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, received a Crystal Cabin award yesterday at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.

Panasonic was honored in the industrial design category for its Integrated Smart Monitor.  The Integrated Smart Monitor was born of a groundbreaking collaboration with Weber Aircraft and Teague to produce the industry’s first fully integrated IFE seat solution.

“When we started this project, we wanted to address the full realm of challenges with bolt-on IFEC solutions,” said Marshal H. Perlman, Director, Product Management of Panasonic Avionics Corporation.  “To do that, we knew we needed to work together to create an entirely new concept.  The Crystal Cabin Award validates our efforts and publicly demonstrates how collaboration can revolutionize both design and function.”

The vision was to create an integrated product that would decrease costs, reduce complexity and create a premium entertainment experience for travelers.  The result was an IFE seat solution that seamlessly
integrates Panasonic’s next-generation, touch-screen IFE monitor with an ultra-thin, lightweight economy seat for an unprecedented level of class and comfort.

It is significantly lighter than other solutions, offers improved reliability, and a home theater entertainment experience to airline passengers while streamlining the aircraft manufacturing process with fewer parts.

“Starting with R&D and at every step of the seat design, Weber ensures the IFE integrates in a way that creates the most living space while minimizing the impact to the overall seat weight. We’ve taken
cooperation a step further,” said Jean-Marie Daout, Senior Director, Business Development of Weber.

Sebastian Petry, Design Director of Teague, noted, “ This is a collaborative solution that allows airlines to offer a personal entertainment space, closer to the home entertainment experience. It will help make travel a better lifestyle experience.”

“Regardless of the capabilities of any IFEC system, weight, space and power draw are issues that loom large in the airline industry,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation.  “Working together with Weber and Teague, we made considerable progress in changing the profile of our IFEC systems. But we can’t rest on our laurels.  We are dedicated to leading the industry with innovations in both function and footprint.”

The Crystal Cabin Award is the only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation. The award is donated by the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany, and is intended to recognize significant improvements in passenger comfort.  Entrants are judged on unique features, market compatibility, aesthetics, engineering, usability and economics.  The award, established in 2007, has been presented annually at the Aircraft Interiors Expo.