Lufthansa Technik has released details of its new widebody VIP cabin concept EXPLORER. The EXPLORER design concept is based on the current trend for super yachts that fulfil two wishes for their owners: To take them almost anywhere at any time and to serve them at their destination as an individual hotel and base camp for a wide 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. As a classic widebody aircraft, it offers sufficient space for a large number of novel cabin ideas and also a sufficient range to fulfil the special 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 call an aircraft their own,” explained Wieland Timm, Head of Sales VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services at 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, 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 – the experts at Lufthansa Technik have now succeeded in building the 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 to the use in a VIP cabin. By cleverly positioning the 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 in VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services at 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.“
Another feature that allows EXPLORER passengers to make completely new discoveries is the floor in the forward fuselage area, which 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, 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 four meters above the apron, passengers of the EXPLORER aircraft are thus offered a unique view of the surroundings and at the airport that acts as a base camp for further discoveries and excursions, for example using the vehicles carried on board.
To ensure that the VIPs’ vehicle fleet can be attractively presented to guests and fellow passengers, the Lufthansa Technik team 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 special area will be created in cooperation with BRABUS, one of the leading manufacturers of high-performance and luxury automobiles, and will be jointly presented at one of the upcoming trade shows. Via a convenient staircase, the Luxury Mobility Lounge will be easily accessible to passengers from the main deck, even during the flight. It will also cater to the technical needs of the automotive treasures carried on board.
Apart from the technical features, Lufthansa Technik’s engineering and design teams have paid the greatest possible attention to multifunctional solutions and the widest possible range of use cases. Thus, 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. Another such highlight is the multifunctional room in the rear of the aircraft. It meets the needs of all those world explorers who do not want to do without their usual fitness and wellness facilities on long-haul flights. For emergencies, this space can also be converted into a flying hospital room.
The design 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, however, 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.