While digitalization is reaching more and more areas of our lives, its impact on the procedures inside an aircraft cabin has been minimal so far. In almost all passenger cars, for example, a sensor verifies that the trunk is closed properly, but the baggage compartments in an aircraft still have to be checked by the crew. Thus Lufthansa Technik has launched its ‘Cabin 4.0’ project, which uses intelligent automation to simplify procedures in the aircraft cabin for both passengers and flight crews. The project aims to see tasks that are usually performed manually taken over by state-of-the-art sensors, thus giving flight attendants more time for personal service.
“We don’t just want to replace the traditional reading lamp with LED lighting that can be turned on and off with a smartphone. We want the reading lamp to recognize independently when the passenger opens a magazine. If the passenger then decides to watch a film instead, the same lamp could sense that information via optical transmission,” explained Sven Taubert, corporate innovation manager at Lufthansa Technik. “This increases passenger comfort and, at the same time, relieves the on-board WLAN networks.”
In terms of other application examples, the project team is in close contact with the different users in the cabin, from cleaning staff and caterers to flight attendants, technicians and passengers. “To get a better understanding of their needs, we slip into each of these roles ourselves for a while. Currently, we hardly have any data available from inside the cabin. That is why our first step is to take a close look at which cabin-related information is useful enough that it makes sense to collect it automatically. This allows us to gain insights that will lead to the concrete development of new systems and services.”
With financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), project development work inside a real cabin is now set to begin at the ZAL TechCenter in Hamburg-Finkenwerder under the direction of Sven Taubert.