APEXEXPO: GX on Lufthansa is powered by BoardConnect

BoardConnect Plus by Lufthansa Systems.
BoardConnect Plus by Lufthansa Systems.

Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect Plus is powering the Inmarsat GX inflight connectivity aboard its parent company’s aircraft.

At the moment just two aircraft are flying with GX connectivity, but that number will ramp up over the coming months.

Norbert Mueller, Senior Vice President, Lufthansa Systems, said that BoardConnect Plus had to go through many updates and changes to accommodate the live internet connection, but it is working well and passenger feedback has been very positive.

The GX service on Lufthansa is Wi-Fi only, with in-cabin hotspots and no seat-back devices to worry about. BoardConnect Plus therefore has to accommodate different tablets, laptops and other personal electronic devices.

“The BoardConnect Plus portal is HTML/Javascript based and so works via the passenger’s internet browser,” Mueller said. “We still have to have an iPad app for DRM-protected streaming content, but otherwise the browser handles everything else.”

Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect

Lufthansa Systems has worked with Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik, to offer airlines the modern, multifunctional on-board IT platform with broadband access.

As well as the internet connection, passengers get access to audio, video, games and shopping.

Thanks to the open software architecture of the BoardConnect Plus platform, entertainment, infotainment and ancillary revenues can be integrated quite easily. These can benefit passengers as well as airlines, since integrated ads and services can generate additional revenues.

The inflight connectivity service aboard the Lufthansa flights is currently free until mid-January, and the final cost structure beyond that has not been finalised.

But typically passengers will pay for per-flight access, with three different service levels.

Cost per flight

The first rate will be for simple chat-type apps and be set at around €3 per flight. The next level is for internet and email access, with an upper rate of about €12 per flight being reserved for full video streaming.

Mueller said that Inmarsat’s GX Aviation system is more than capable of delivering streaming video, but it is obviously better if 100 people look at the same video, rather than 100 people all looking at something different.

As a result Lufthansa Systems is looking at the prospect of introducing live TV channels via GX. The benefits are numerous, but by controlling the quality and the bit rate you have more control over how much bandwidth is needed to transmit the video. That is, you can optimise the stream for satellite distribution.

Mueller said that the Lufthansa Systems team had also been busy with its work for low-cost carrier Eurowings.

Back in August, more than 70 Eurowings Airbus A320 aircraft were equipped with Lufthansa Systemsʼ BoardConnect Portable in one weekend.

The advantage of the all-in-one BoardConnect Portable solution is that all of the technical components needed for an IFE system – such as the server and access points – are combined in a single device called a Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU).

The MSU is about the size of a conventional tablet, weighs less than 1.5kg and can be brought on board easily during regular flight operations.

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