Typically, we do not like to write a story about how an IFE vendor made their system more reliable. Why? Inevitably, readers think the system was not reliable in the first place. Not so with Lumexis… read on reader.

Lumexis Corporation has been building a strong reputation for robust performance and reliability of its FIBER TO THE SCREEN® (FTTS) network, with a dozen flydubai B737-800 already in service (increasing at about one new aircraft per month, headed toward a total fleet of 44). Despite being knee-deep in work preparing for FTTS installation into the first of four B777-300 aircraft for Transaero Airlines, Russia’s second largest carrier, Lumexis CEO Doug Cline took time to talk with IFExpress and offer some exclusive news of an innovative new development.

“Obviously, we are immensely pleased with the success of the FTTS launch with flydubai and the intense interest that such in-service “proof-of-performance” has generated among OEMs and airlines,’ reports Cline. “Its verifiable 99%+ fleet availability delivered by the unique Lumexis fiber optic network has gained a huge amount of industry attention. But we aren’t stopping there.”

Now, the company is extending its lead in demonstrated reliability beyond even Gen2 FTTS’s existing double-redundancy with PSB (Passenger Specific, in-seat Backup), an innovative technology assuring each passenger’s preferred choice of entertainment under all circumstances. “What this means,” explains Cline, “is that our new Gen3 monitors include local storage into which we can quickly download for ultimate backup, a small subset of the movies available from our headend servers’ massive, multi-terabyte libraries (as much as 400 two-hour HD movies). Since in-monitor storage is limited to the same 64-128 gigabytes as seat-centric IFE systems (16-32 two-hour HD movies), we want to pick only those movies that each individual passenger would choose – and, of course, popular choices vary from route to route, language and so forth.”

Cleverly using their visibility of multiple passenger preference factors, FTTS computers are directed to look at such things as the current flight’s city pair and each passenger’s language selection in order to store at their seat only those movies and other entertainment that have proved most popular under similar circumstances. They can even reassess and update those locally stored movies during a current flight as new entertainment is loaded and evolving preferences become available. “The result is that even in the extremely rare situation where both a headend media server and a network leg fail, the passenger not only continues to be entertained, but has the highest possibility of having their first choice still be available to them,” Cline points out.

Lumexis is clearly investing heavily to continue its already enviable record for reliability, even as it expands into widebody and worldwide support. In the midst of a number of new entrants to the markets, Cline likes to point out that, as of this interview, his company is alone in its full fleet deployment and verifiable record. “Every new entrant today seems to be claiming to be lighter than air and cheaper than dirt,” he says. “But the available facts are that FTTS has established – in daily revenue service with flydubai – an unprecedented and unmatched low cost of ownership, and at 2.3kgs per seat – fully installed (1.3kgs per seat – system only), the absolutely lowest cost of carriage.”

Strong words, indeed. But, it seems, words based on actual deeds.

Editor’s Note: For all you APEX & AIX-US Show-goers, the Seattle weather forecast predicts high 70’s to low 80’s temperature for Monday thru Thursday. Nice!

Also, don’t forget the National Business Aircraft Association Annual Conference (NBAA) in Vegas baby! October 10 – 12, Las Vegas NV, USA.

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.