Lufthansa Technik has presented further details of its new Explorer wide-body VIP cabin concept at this year’s Dubai Airshow; it was first revealed earlier in the year at the Monaco Boat Show. The Explorer design concept is based on the current trend in superyachts whose owners want to go anywhere at any time, where the yacht itself serves as hotel and base camp for leisure activities and excursions at the destination.
Lufthansa specialists chose the Airbus A330 for the private aviation market platform because the classic wide-body aircraft offers sufficient space for a large number of novel cabin ideas, and also sufficient range to fulfil the particular wishes of the Explorer target group.
“In yacht building, multifunctional exploration vessels have now become a class in their own right, and many owners of such vessels also have an aircraft,” explains head of sales VIP and special mission aircraft services Wieland Timm. “For this fast-growing target group of VIP world explorers we have therefore 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.”
One feature is a large-scale integrated projection system of virtual content, which extends from the window belt across almost the entire cabin ceiling in the multifunctional lounge area. Up until now there has been no suitable technology to implement this in a way that is both aesthetically convincing and certifiable, but since working with Diehl Aerospace, a joint venture between Diehl Aviation and Thales, Lufthansa engineers have now built the bridge to large-scale realisation of these virtual cabin elements.
Diehl's projection technology has been integrated and tailored specifically to be used in a VIP cabin with small, lightweight, passively cooled projectors positioned in the sidewall and ceiling elements. Projections may show virtual day or night skies, or architectural forms. There is also an aesthetically pleasing idle state with inactive projectors.
“By integrating Diehl’s projection system we have created an interior that exploits the full technology potential for a VIP cabin,” says Lufthansa aircraft interior architect in VIP and special mission aircraft services Michael Bork. “It is optimised both technically and aesthetically to provide a framework for bringing a variety of atmospheres and virtual worlds to life, changing the overall look of the cabin at the touch of a fingertip.”
Explorer passengers can also make use of the forward fuselage area, where the floor extends outward from the parked aircraft to form a spacious veranda. The main deck cargo hatch on the Airbus A330 freighter, which is now also available as a retrofit solution for passenger versions, opens up the Explorer interior to its surroundings. This platform can be extended by several metres and sits at a height of around four metres above the apron.
Vehicles can be carried on board, and the Lufthansa team envisions a mobility lounge in the aft section of the lower deck that can be viewed from the main deck through a glass floor and is connected by a staircase, accessible even during the flight. This area will be created in collaboration with automobile manufacturer Brabus.
The engineering and design teams have also concentrated on multifunctional solutions for the widest possible range of uses. Thus, in addition to classic room elements such as bedrooms and guest rooms, bathrooms, offices, dining and conference areas, there could also be a fitness and wellness facility in the rear of the aircraft on long haul flights. For emergencies, this space can also be converted into a flying hospital room.
The current design configuration is for up to 12 VIP passengers, but modular variants could seat up to 47 passengers. Lufthansa Technik plans to use the Explorer concept as an ideas laboratory to further develop and present other ideas and technologies.