• Portable IFE solution for short- and medium-haul flights and innovative mCabin crew app

Raunheim/Hamburg, Germany | April 4, 2016– Lufthansa Systems today announced that it will present its multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless infotainment platform – both the classic version and the all-in-one BoardConnect Portable – at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg. The IFE platform now offers shop functionalities which enable airlines to place offers from partner companies in order to generate additional revenues. Visitors to AIX can also find out about the innovative mCabin crew app, which is now available for Windows 10 as well.

In order to keep pace with current developments in the industry, airlines are looking for low-cost solutions which give their passengers an individualized and contemporary travel experience. Lufthansa Systems has addressed these needs by developing BoardConnect Portable. “Our all-in-one solution allows airlines to offer their passengers a cutting-edge IFE system without having to invest in expensive hardware,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.

BoardConnect Portable is even easier to use and more flexible than the conventional BoardConnect solution. Its advantage is that all of the technical components needed for an IFE system – such as a server and access points – are combined in a single device, the Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU). An MSU is about the size of a conventional tablet, weight less than 1.5 kg and can supply up to 50 passengers with top-quality streamed content. Since MSUs qualify as non-permanently installed equipment, airlines don’t incur high installation and certification costs.

As with the conventional BoardConnect systems, passengers can use an app to stream content to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight – including video and audio on demand, games, a shop and a moving map with points of interest (POI) relating to various topics.The open platform architecture allows for an easy integration of services that generate additional revenue for the airlines and their partners, such as hotel bookings, tickets for events or places of interest at the destination and additional advertising.

BoardConnect Portable is already proving popular: Lufthansa’s subsidiary Eurowings will use the product in the future so that it can offer its customers on-board entertainment even on short- and medium-haul flights. The portable solution from Lufthansa Systems is also one of the finalists in this year’s Crystal Cabin Award in the “Electronic Systems” category. This renowned industry award is traditionally presented during AIX.

Visitors to the trade fair can also find out about the innovative mCabin crew app, which has recently become available for Windows 10. Lufthansa Systems further developed this software solution so that it can be used on Microsoft’s new universal Windows platform (UWP), which enables crews to access all of the software’s functions through a comfortable, intuitive user interface regardless of the device.

mCabin provides the cabin team with all of the passenger service information they need, including a passenger manifest complete with information about the passengers’ seats, status, food preferences and special requirements. mCabin’s features include interactive duty rosters as well as an option for adding notes to documents such as crew briefings and synchronizing them via an existing Internet connection. Thanks to its powerful reporting capabilities, incidents on board can be immediately processed digitally. And to bring mobility to IFE, the BoardConnect crew front-end is being integrated into mCabin.

No doubt, when you have flown in the past, you have seen a crew member rely on a printed listing of passengers or a list of flight specific data. Note we said “printed” and that concept just may be a thing of the past because Lufthansa Systems has introduced the mobile device app solution for cabin paperwork (and much more) and it is called mCabin. Hosted on a number of popular devices Windows tablets (Apple coming soon), mCabin puts the whole plane in the cabin crew’s hands which makes an easier way to manage the passenger services, and increases crew knowledge… by a lot. Perhaps, their sales promotion says it best: “All relevant flight details at a glance mCabin app gives access to precise and valuable passenger, crew and flight data directly from your mobile device. The app contains all required documentation and information from interactive duty calendar through briefing, crew positioning, passenger information and reporting.”

But mCabin is more than just an app. We note that the devices are wirelessly connected to a software support system that keeps all users aware of the airline information and updated with system knowledge like crew, briefings reports and so on but we will talk more about this later.

Here is a quote from their news release: “mCabin is a state-of-the-art, professional tool that supports cabin attendants in all stages and processes before, during and after a flight. The app contains information for the in-flight service such as a list of all passengers together with details of passenger seat numbers, status, meal preferences and special assistance. A shop module displays all available duty-free items and food and beverages that can be selected for purchase on board. For crew management mCabin’s features include interactive duty rosters, briefing documents, in-flight assessments and the assignment of working positions based on the flight attendants’ qualifications. Thanks to its powerful reporting capabilities, incidents on board can be immediately processed digitally. And to bring mobility to IFE, the BoardConnect crew front-end is currently being integrated into mCabin. “

Connect To Your Crew

Crew devices and apps can, and will, save crew members work, it’s that simple. They can be tailored for specific airline applications – just load one or more of the additional modules like “Onboard Retail” to expand the app supported, cabin crew member functions. Here is a link (mCabin System Modules) on the system structure diagram and we note that on the right hand side, specific crew modules selected by the airline can be added to each app. Noted one team member: “As the app is modular by design, it is also possible to select individual modules for specific tasks. A purser might want to use a tablet with the full functionality of mCabin whereas other crew members might prefer using only modules relevant to their work on handy smartphones. Regardless of the type of device, the user experience remains great for both with the responsive and intuitive layout.”, Julie Ingleson, Product Manager Mobile Solutions/mCabin.

Next, we asked a few questions of the mCabin team and here is what they told IFExpress:

1. IFExpress: We assume the mCabin product is an app on a device that a crew member carries. How does the airline modify the program app to change a crew members device to control which tasks/features to include or remove from the device?

Lufthansa Systems: “Roles are given to a user that then enable them for specific modules depending on their role. The airline can decide, which role is able to use which modules in advance.

2. IFExpress: Our readers will like to see a recent sales brochure, please provide one for review.

Lufthansa Systems: LINK

3. IFExpress: Does Lufthansa Systems host the website where airline crew get their mCabin flight updates or does the airline do it with Lufthansa Systems assistance since we assume the airline mCabin app talks to something on the ground to get data updates. Further, are there any security issues with passenger data being transmitted to an portable device?

Lufthansa Systems: “There are potentially multiple back-end applications that can connect to the mobile middleware that is an integral part of the product. This middleware enables the orchestration/packaging of data from the back end applications that is then used to provide the relevant data for the app. Lufthansa Systems, in many cases, is the provider of these back end applications, such as NetLine/Crew – that is the crew management system for over 40 airlines worldwide. But mCabin can be integrated with back-end solutions from other providers as well to guarantee full flexibility for the airlines. Also note that the log-in and device security must always provide the required security to protect the very sensitive data that is available on the device.”

4. IFExpress: Could you tell our readers a bit more about the product features?

Lufthansa Systems:The sales brochure gives the main features – anything more would go too deeply into detail. Of course the app is modular and customization requests to support individual requirements can be added to the app.”

5. IFExpress: What portable device operating systems are usable with mCabin?

Lufthansa Systems: “As described in the press release, mCabin currently supports multiple form factor families and input modalities making it capable of running on any Windows 10 devices. mCabin is an adaptive app so from the smallest smart phone up to xBox that is running the Universal Windows Platform the user can choose which device he prefers. A native solution for iOS 9 is currently being developed.

6. IFExpress: Can you tell our readers a little about device synchronization. How about the Internet? Does mCabin talk to the Internet for any data or is it all hosted elsewhere? In fact, what connectivity is required on an aircraft to communicate with the ground for update of these? We think it is a great idea but it might be expensive to maintain data?

Lufthansa Systems: “Depending on if the airline has purchased mobile devices with SIM cards, data can be synchronized via 3G/4G or over WiFi – of course large data bundles such as library documents can be restricted to being synchronized via WiFi only. This all depends on the airline processes and what their data agreements are with their chosen providers. The app is available as a totally offline application and needs only to be synchronized before and post flight. The post flight sync enables the transmission of data that has been collected in an offline environment (e.g. In-flight) to the relevant back end applications. Of course with the latest satellite technology making the connected journey possible in the air then critical data could also be transmitted directly during flight.”

7. IFExpress: Does every crew person get mCabin software on a device or only the cabin manager, or is this up to the airline? Can you explain why every cabin crew member should have one of these? We think it is a great idea but it might be expensive to maintain data?

Lufthansa Systems: “It is up to the airline to choose how many devices they want to use. Usually, the devices are managed personalized devices. Every crew member should get one as this means a truly connected and paperless experience and each crew member is able to access all the information they require about their duty, their rotation, their passengers and so much more right at their fingertips. The data is there and maintained in the backend applications anyway, no matter how many crew members use it.”

8. What airlines today use mCabin? Any comments from them? Will there be a demo at AIX in Hamburg?

Lufthansa Systems: “Yes, we will be showing mCabin at the AIX in the fantastic new design on multiple devices. We are currently talking with several airlines but cannot name them yet.”

8. Have you ever made a downloadable demo app for a for a sales demo on a device? Can our readers see it?

Lufthansa Systems: “Yes, the app is available in the Windows Store (with dummy data) for downloading onto any Win10 device (Win 8.1 is also still supported).  mCabin – Windows Apps on Microsoft Store

9. IFExpress: Lastly, Does Lufthansa Systems IFE “talk” to mCabin to provide inflight entertainment data? How? What data is interchanged?

Lufthansa Systems: “It is as follows – the crew front end that is used to control the BoardConnect IFE platform (i.e. the user interface for the crew) will be integrated into mCabin so that the crew member is completely mobile and will not have to operate two different devices. This means, the crew can control the BoardConnect IFE platform via mCabin.”

We note that Lufthansa Systems will be at AIX Hall 2B / Booth 2D70 with these and other products. In fact, we asked the BoardConnect VP about their booth and he told IFExpress: “Besides mCabin Lufthansa Systems will also showcase its wireless IFE solution BoardConnect and the new portable version BoardConnect Portable with was chosen as a finalist for this year´s Crystal Cabin Award in the category ‘Electronic Systems’. Additionally, we will focus on how the airlines can generate ancillary revenue with BoardConnect,” says Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.

Lufthansa Systems mCabin Product Brochure


MORE NEWS:

BOEING AWARDS B777X CABIN SERVICES SYSTEM PROGRAM TO PANASONIC AVIONICS – Panasonic Avionics (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and communications, today announced it has been selected to supply the Cabin Services System (CSS) on the new family of Boeing 777X aircraft. Panasonic is currently the supplier of CSS on all Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft. Panasonic’s CSS is a scalable, database driven, Ethernet-based network that provides core cabin functions such as passenger address, cabin interphone and environmental controls. CSS directly integrates with external subsystems such as cabin lighting and other airplane member systems across the airframe networks, including the inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions

SOME AIX BOOTHS TO VISIT:

  • Zii will feature RAVE at their Booth 4C20 in Hall B4 and don’t be surprised if they have…Oh, sorry, we can’t talk about it!
  • PXCom has decided to partner with IMM International and open a new revenue stream. This world-leading group has a 30-year of proven track record in inflight media advertising, serving 150+ airlines with one of the major brands portfolio. This unique offering enables any brand to roll-out an efficient digital inflight advertising campaign, regardless of the IFE platform. The advertisers select their campaign’s features, and IMM/PXCom platforms redirect the right ads on the right targets. PXCom exhibits on #3C50
  • GORE – Booth 3C20 – Cables, Fiber Optics and more.
  • HAVELSAN and Turkish Technic Booth Number 2E70 to present Wireless, Tablet Based and Seat-Back IFE products.
  • Telefonix Stand 2C50 to see the Expanded SUMMIT IFEC line.
  • The ZAL Tech Center is having a tour on Tuesday 6 April 2016 at 4.15 pm, starting from the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
  • VTS is exhibiting 3 game changing IFE Systems to cost effectively solve airline entertainment issues, so notes new Director of Marketing, Web Barth – see them at Booth 4E60.
  • BAE Systems will be at Booth 2B70.
  • “Visit Stand 4B40 during the Aircraft Interiors EXPO and allow us to demonstrate why Lumexis is The Future of IFE. Come and see the next generation of our award winning FTTS IFE system which provides HD video, a wide range of applications plus a stunning user interface to deliver a superb passenger experience. Also on show will be the revolutionary iPAX IFE system which provides unprecedented IFE capability for single aisle aircraft operators at an ultra low cost and weight.”- so Jon Norris told IFExpress.
  • ACS – Aircraft Cabin Systems Booth 2C60 (4K for sure).
  • Rockwell Collins will be located in Booth 4C40.
  • VT Miltope can be found at Booth 3B10 and we suspect a new product.
  • IFPL folks will be in Booth 2C40 and they never disappoint!
  • And finally, DigEcor at 3C30.

OTHER:

If you travel, you will probably want one of these use on the airplane – The Cicret Bracelet: Like a tablet…but on your skin. Check out the YouTube video!

And lastly, if you are going to Aircraft Interiors and carrying a portable device, you might want to get the AIX app – iTunes, Android, and Windows. What we liked: “Find Exhibitors” – Now with a show floor lookup. If you are going, you need a map on your phone. AIX app, get it before you go. And if you are worried about rouge WiFi, you might try Boingo on the road and in Hamburg…but sadly but not in the Messe.

  • Mobile solution for cabin crew can now be used on any Windows-based device

Raunheim, Germany | February 16, 2016– Lufthansa Systems today announced that it has enhanced its mCabin crew app for Windows 10, allowing it to be used on Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform (UWP).

With Windows 10, Microsoft is touting a theme of “One Windows,” which means that previously separate Windows-based applications that ran on PCs, tablets, phones or game consoles like Xbox One are now all unified into a single platform. The Universal Windows Platform enables software providers to create apps that run on all of these devices.

“mCabin is one of the first Lufthansa Systems enterprise apps available for the Universal Windows Platform,” said Wolfgang Bosch, Director Mobility Solutions at Lufthansa Systems. “It supports multiple form factor families and input modalities making it capable of running on any Windows 10 device. This means choice and flexibility for the airlines when considering which device to select that will best suit the tasks of cabin crew members.” For this purpose, a single mCabin app package has been created that can be installed on the respective devices. The user interface has the same look and feel across all devices and adjusts to the various screen sizes. The range of functionalities is consistent as well.

As the app is modular by design, it is also possible to select individual modules for specific tasks. A purser might want to use a tablet with the full functionality of mCabin whereas other crew members might prefer using only modules relevant to their work on handy smartphones. Regardless of the type of device, the user experience remains great for both with the responsive and intuitive layout.

With in-flight connectivity, the crew can also promptly communicate important information directly to flight operations and upload ground data into the app. But mCabin is also completely operational in an offline environment where data (such as reports) can be collected and then synchronized to back-end applications as soon as the device is again connected to the Internet via a wireless or cell phone connection.

mCabin is a state-of-the-art, professional tool that supports cabin attendants in all stages and processes before, during and after a flight. The app contains information for the in-flight service such as a list of all passengers together with details of passenger seat numbers, status, meal preferences and special assistance. A shop module displays all available duty-free items and food and beverages that can be selected for purchase on board. For crew management mCabin’s features include interactive duty rosters, briefing documents, in-flight assessments and the assignment of working positions based on the flight attendants’ qualifications. Thanks to its powerful reporting capabilities, incidents on board can be immediately processed digitally. And to bring mobility to IFE, the BoardConnect crew front-end is currently being integrated into mCabin.