EXPLORER design study opens up new themed worlds for VIP cabins


Lufthansa Technik EXPLORER

At the upcoming Dubai Airshow, Lufthansa Technik AG will present further details of its new wide-body VIP cabin concept EXPLORER. After a sneak preview at the Monaco Yacht Show in September, numerous further details will now be on display at the aerospace trade fair in the United Arab Emirates. These include features that, thanks to the latest technology, can already be realized in an appealing and high-quality manner.

The EXPLORER design concept is based on the current trend for superyachts that fulfill 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 wide-body aircraft, it offers sufficient space for a large number of novel cabin ideas and also a sufficient range to fulfill 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.”

Close cooperation with Diehl enables large-scale projections of virtual content

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 realization of such virtual cabin elements.

Lufthansa Technik EXPLORER

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.

Lufthansa Technik EXPLORER dancehall

“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.”

The first short teaser shown in Monaco already featured a breathtaking and animated underwater world in this way. The ideas of Lufthansa Technik’s design team for this cabin feature go far beyond that, however: from virtual day and night skies to architectural forms and even a flying discotheque, 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. Therefore, our experts have already developed detailed implementation proposals for many technical features and innovations,” said Jan Grube, Sales Director in VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services. “A great example is the cooperation with Diehl on large-scale projections. Here we were able to fulfill a long-held wish, so we are very grateful for this outstanding cooperation.”

Lufthansa Technik EXPLORER floorplan

Retractable veranda enables EXPLORER audience to make completely new discoveries

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.

Future BRABUS Mobility Lounge will showcase automotive treasures and exploration vehicles

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 twelve 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.

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.