To celebrate the 40th anniversary of APEX EXPO this year, APEX Media is looking back at its members’ most significant achievements. Today, we take a look at the effect that Lumexis Corporation’s Fiber-To-The-Screen system had on in-flight entertainment.
In 2009, Lumexis Corporation’s Fiber-To-The-Screen (FTTS) system took off on board an Airbus A320 aircraft as part of a test flight operated by US Airways. It marked the first time a fiber-optic network had been used to deliver in-flight entertainment (IFE) to a seatback screen.
Lou Sharkey, who held roles as president and COO at Lumexis, which he was with from 2007 until its dissolution in 2016, explained that the benefits of FTTS were manifold. “FTTS offered heretofore unheard-of bandwidth. It allowed 500-plus passengers to stream high-definition movies on a Boeing 747,” he commented. “This effectively future-proofed the IFE system, since airlines could upgrade the system using the fiber network installed without ripping out wires and replacing them.”
FTTS was the first new IFE system in over 15 years to be certified and line-fit-approved by Boeing on its 737-800 and 737 MAX airframes. Flydubai installed FTTS on over 40 of its 737 aircraft, and “they reported that the system was completely paid for by the revenue that it generated,” says Sharkey. According to the airline, the system is still operating with little support three full years after Lumexis left the industry due to liquidity constraints.
Other airline customers included the Lion Air Group, Transaero and Turkish Airlines.
As a result of FTTS, Sharkey says the airline community realized that fiber-optic networks worked on board and, since its launch in 2009, many other fiber-related developments have been made in avionics. This realization also led the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC) to establish a subcommittee focused on developing standards for fiber-optic systems, connectors, maintenance, training and more.
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