Lufthansa Technik has revealed further details about its Explorer wide-body VIP cabin concept, which it will highlight at the Dubai Airshow, to be held on 14-18 November 2021 in Dubai, UAE. The company first gave a preview of the design at the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2021.
The expanded design includes features that can already be realised in an appealing, high-quality manner, Lufthansa Technik said, thanks to the latest technology.
The company said the Explorer design concept is based on the current trend for superyachts that fulfil two wishes for their owners. Firstly, to take them almost anywhere at any time, and secondly, to serve them at their destination as a hotel and base camp for a variety of leisure activities and excursions. Lufthansa Technik’s specialists have chosen the Airbus A330 as the platform for realising these customer wishes in private aviation. The company noted that as a classic wide-body aircraft, the A330 offers space for a large number of novel cabin ideas and also a sufficient range to fulfil the wishes of the target group.
“In yacht building, multifunctional exploration vessels have now become a class in their own right, and many owners of such vessels also call an aircraft their own,” said Wieland Timm, head of sales, VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services, Lufthansa Technik. “For this fast-growing target group of VIP world explorers, we have therefore now created a flying platform for the first time. Unlike a yacht, however, our Explorer aircraft allows passengers to travel to the other side of the globe within hours and set up their own individual base camp for further activities. This opens up completely new possibilities for explorers.”
A particularly striking feature of the Explorer concept is the large-scale integrated projection system for virtual content, which extends from the window belt to almost the entire cabin ceiling in the multifunctional lounge area. Although similar features have often been seen in design studies, Lufthansa Technik said there has been no suitable technology to implement them in a way that is both aesthetically convincing and certifiable, until now. In close cooperation with Diehl Aerospace – a joint venture between Diehl Aviation and Thales – Lufthansa Technik said it has succeeded in building a decisive bridge to the large-scale realisation of such virtual cabin elements.
To this end, Lufthansa Technik’s design team integrated Diehl’s projection technology and tailored it specifically for use in a VIP cabin. By cleverly positioning small, lightweight and passively cooled projectors into the sidewall and ceiling elements, large-scale virtual impressions are created, the content of which customers can configure individually according to their wishes with the help of a corresponding software solution from Diehl.
“By integrating the unique projection system of Diehl, we have created an interior that exploits the technology’s full potential for a VIP cabin,” said Michael Bork, aircraft interior architect, VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services, Lufthansa Technik. “It is optimised under technical and aesthetic aspects to provide an adequate framework for bringing a variety of atmospheres and virtual worlds to life, changing the overall look of the cabin by a fingertip.”
The first short teaser shown in Monaco featured an animated underwater world in this way. The design team’s ideas for this cabin feature extend from virtual day and night skies to architectural forms and even a flying discotheque; it says the most diverse or even constantly changing configurations are possible. The design team has also thought of an aesthetically pleasing idle state with inactive projectors.
“When designing an Airbus A330 as a versatile Explorer tool – whether for private owners or also for charter agencies for this type of travel – we paid particular attention to feasibility,” said Jan Grube, sales director, VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services. “Therefore, our experts have already developed detailed implementation proposals for many technical features and innovations. A great example is the cooperation with Diehl on large-scale projections. Here we were able to fulfil a long-held wish, so we are very grateful for this outstanding cooperation.”
Another standout feature is the floor in the forward fuselage area, which extends outward from the parked aircraft to form a veranda. The main-deck cargo hatch on the A330 freighter, which is now also available as a retrofit solution for passenger versions, opens up the Explorer interior to its surroundings, into which passengers can then immerse themselves directly via a platform that can be extended by several meters.
Here, too, the Explorer concept is based on the yacht category that already bears this name. These ships have precisely these retractable elements to give their passengers even more direct contact with the environment. At a height of around 4m (13.1ft) above the apron, passengers are thus offered a unique view of the surroundings and at the airport that acts as a base camp for further excursions, for example using vehicles carried on board.
Future Brabus Mobility Lounge
To ensure that the VIPs’ vehicle fleet can be presented attractively to guests and fellow passengers, Lufthansa Technik envisions a special Mobility Lounge in the aft section of the lower deck, which can already be viewed from the main deck through a glass floor. This area will be created in cooperation with luxury automobile manufacturer Brabus and will be presented jointly at an upcoming tradeshow. The Mobility Lounge will be accessible to passengers from the main deck via a staircase, even during the flight. It will also cater to the technical needs of the vehicles carried on board.
Apart from the technical features, Lufthansa Technik’s engineering and design teams have paid great attention to multifunctional solutions and the widest possible range of use cases. In addition to classic room elements such as bedrooms and guest rooms, bathrooms, offices, dining and conference areas, there are also some new design ideas. One such highlight is the multifunctional room in the rear of the aircraft. It is designed to meet the needs of those who do not want to do without their usual fitness and wellness facilities. For emergencies, this space can also be converted into a flying hospital room.
The configuration currently showcased is designed for up to 12 VIP passengers and places explicit emphasis on bringing the special explorer character to life for this particular VIP target group. Alternatively, further modular variants with up to 47 passengers are also possible on the basis of this concept. These can include, for example, a much more individual owner’s module with a master bedroom and bathroom as well as an office, but also larger areas for the crew or additional entourage.
Because of its many possible uses, Lufthansa Technik will utilise the Explorer concept as an ideas laboratory to further develop and present other ideas and technologies that currently exist only on the drawing board. An animated film and extensive illustrative material on the current stage of development will be shown by Lufthansa Technik at its booth (1250) at this year’s Dubai Airshow. Diehl’s experts will also be available at the company’s booth (849) to answer all questions regarding the projection technology for the virtual ceiling content.
Images: Lufthansa Technik AG