Boeing Frontiers
June 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 02 
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Connexion by Boeing
Lufthansa makes the 'Connexion'

Passengers aboard one Lufthansa 747 can expect to begin using the Connexion by Boeing system later this year

Torsten UlbrichIt should come as no surprise that Lufthansa German Airlines is the launch customer for the Connexion by Boeing aerial broadband system. After all, Lufthansa was among the first to order Boeing jetliners when it contracted for four Boeing 707s way back in 1956. The first 707 to sport the flying crane logo was followed by 301 more Boeing jetliners, including 727s, 737s, 747s and DC-10s.

Lufthansa's plans to install Connexion by Boeing were announced at the Paris Air Show in 2001. "We have made a deliberate decision to rely on global, highly efficient and future-oriented broadband technology rather than the restrictive narrow band solution which has limitations on capacity and speed," Wolfgang Mayrhuber, deputy chairman of Lufthansa's executive board and chief executive officer of the passenger service, said at the time.

Lufthansa's interest in Connexion was no surprise to Tom Basacchi, vice president of Customer Support at Commercial Aviation Services and former vice president of Sales and Marketing Support at Connexion by Boeing. "Lufthansa has been, from an airline perspective, as advanced as anybody when it comes to being connected while in flight. They see the benefit that connectivity offers to their operations and productivity. Lufthansa also is concerned about building passenger loyalty. They see Connexion by Boeing as a way to further their relationship with their passengers."

Lufthansa also has been a key participant in "Connexion Working Together" sessions, where airlines from around the world work with Boeing to create the optimal system. The German carrier emerged as the overall launch customer when the impact of Sept. 11 on U.S. carriers led Connexion by Boeing to focus on an international rollout schedule ahead of a domestic rollout.

Lufthansa installed an initial, demonstration Connexion by Boeing system aboard a 747-400 during a D-level (major) maintenance check earlier this year. The installation used a kit delivered Jan. 21, two days ahead of schedule.

Delivering the kit on time — and working closely with the customer throughout installation — minimized any risk of delay. Lufthansa technicians, laying cables and installing a wireless local area network system, connected 380 seats to a server aboard the 747. They connected the server in turn to two Connexion by Boeing phased-array antennas mounted above the fuselage, just behind the 747's distinctive forward hump. The airplane since has returned to service — on schedule.

Passengers aboard the plane can expect to begin using the system on a three-month trial basis in late 2002, after the service and system have been tested and validated thoroughly. If the tests are successful, Lufthansa intends to install the service aboard its fleet of long-range jetliners, enabling passengers to send and receive e-mail and surf the Internet or company intranets in real time.

Connexion by Boeing's system development team, including the satellite communications link team, joined with Star Aviation, a Boeing supplier based in Mobile, Ala.; Boeing Fabrication in Auburn, Wash.; and Boeing Modification in Wichita, Kan., to build the kit. The Auburn team designed the antenna-mounted fairings. The Wichita team added two extra mounting lugs to the original four, using parts previously supplied by Star Aviation, after aerodynamic load data analysis showed a stronger installation kit was needed.

Connexion by Boeing, a separate business unit of The Boeing Company since October 2000, also serves executive jet customers, including VIP transports for private and government customers. Eight executive jets have been equipped with a prototype system in recent years. In January, the U.S. government announced it would equip four C-32A VIP jetliners with the Connexion by Boeing system as part of an overall communications upgrade. The C-32A is a modified version of the Boeing 757 passenger jet.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission licensed the business unit to operate its commercial service above the continental United States, and the Federal Aviation Administration certified the Connexion by Boeing system for use aboard Boeing 737-400 jetliners.

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