DN - Defence Notes

Lumexis set for US Airways trial installation

3rd January 2009 - 04:01 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Installation of the potentially revolutionary Lumexis fibreoptic-based audio/video-on-demand system for a three-month in-service trial on an US Airways Airbus A320 is due to begin on Monday, according to industry sources.

The US major, which is in the middle of removing the broadcast IFE provision from its domestic fleet to save weight and fuel, plans to put to the test Lumexis’ claims that its Fibre-to-the-Screen (FTTS) system will be cheaper, lighter, more compact and more powerful than any competing product. Also under scrutiny will be the durability and maintainability of FTTS – Lumexis says that fibreoptic is now quite robust enough to meet the demands of daily commercial operations.

The A320 fit will be carried out in a three-week campaign by Empire Aero Centre of Rome, New York State, under the supervision of Montreal-based Inflight Canada, which designed the installation.

The aircraft will return to full commercial service, with FTTS due to be offered on every flight. Specially trained flight attendants will explain and promote the system to passengers, and full usage data will be downloaded to the airline’s operations centre at the end of each flight.

Sources suggest that while the trial may not lead in the short term to US Airways’ putting FTTS in its A320-family domestic narrowbody fleet, the system could find its way into part of its international fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing 757s and 767s. Other customers are also in prospect, according to California-based Lumexis, which reported before the end of last year that it was talking to a number of domestic and international airlines.

Lumexis set up in business five years ago to develop a system exploiting the weight-saving, ultra-broadband characteristics of fibreoptic cable. The 15-man company, operating from a modest location next to California’s Orange County Airport, showcased the finished article at September’s WAEA exhibition in Long Beach. “Our aim is a system offering a significantly lower cost of ownership than competing products, along with enough bandwidth to accommodate current emerging applications and those that are certain to follow in the future,” said chief executive Doug Cline.        

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