APEX TECH 2023: Day One – Newly-minted APEX Board Member and incoming APEX TECH Committee Chair, Von Krüchten sits down with APEX Media for a chat about this week’s TECH, the continued convergence of IFC and IFE and his lifelong love affair with aviation.
Jonas von Krüchten is the Head of Strategy and Business Development at AERQ. Aside from leading the foundation of AERQ for Lufthansa Technik and then transitioning there on day one as an integral part of the leadership team, von Kruechten previously worked at Lufthansa Technik doing business development for IFE/CMS systems for business jets.
APEX MEDIA: Please tell us about yourself — your history, where you grew up and maybe even a little bit about what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
JONAS VON KRUECHTEN: Of course! I grew up in Hamburg, Germany and I studied in a university close to Hamburg whilst also working for a bigger corporation. As long as I can remember I have wanted to become a pilot (I know, cliché) or a veterinarian.
APEX: Aha. Very different career paths.
VON KRUECHTEN: Yes. After a three-week internship at a vet, I could rule this idea out very quickly. Even though I later on decided not to pursue a commercial pilot career, I still did my private pilot’s license to fulfill this dream.
APEX: Nice. What was it that first drew you to aviation?
VON KRUECHTEN: The house I grew up in was on the final approach of one of the HAM runways. When this runway was active – only 5% of all traffic – the aircraft would fly right over my parent’s house and I would watch them from the window or the backyard. Early on I could tell the different aircraft types apart and developed a fascination. With a friend I would ride my bicycle to the airport and watch the planes. My first flight was with my dad and two siblings to Friedrichshafen, Germany. I wanted to get on an airplane so badly, so my dad used his miles to take us kids flying.
APEX: Talk to us about your career in aviation technology. What changes have you seen in IFEC technology over the years?
VON KRUECHTEN: I started with Lufthansa Technik in 2012. After rotating through a few interesting corporate projects in M&A, Strategy, Finance as part of a post-grad management trainee program, I moved to IFEC for business jets in 2014.
Since 2018, I have been fully involved with the foundation and ramp-up of AERQ, which focuses fully on commercial aviation. I effectively started in IFC with the introduction of LEO constellations, increased worldwide GEO HTS coverage and the potential this brings to the market, both individually and in conjunction. The advancements in IFC will put our industry on a migration path from legacy IFE to a more digitally-connected, passenger-centric flight experience.
APEX: Talk to us about your position as incoming APEX TECH Committee Chair. What do you hope to bring to your new role?
VON KRUECHTEN: I am honored to take over as APEX Technology Committee Chair and humbled to see the wealth of expertise the Technology Committee’s leadership team, as well as so many other involved volunteers, have been contributing to APEX; not just in preparation of this TECH event but also throughout the year as part of working groups.
Throughout the last years, I have observed how great technology has impacted passenger experience but also how many great, innovative solutions seem to struggle to find their way into the aircraft cabin.
One of the reasons is that the respective use case is sometimes unclear – what is in it for the airline and the passenger? APEX TECH can play an increasing role in looking at technology a bit more holistically by adding more discussions around use cases, customer benefits and/or pains solved. Thus, increasing the relevance of the conversation also for airlines and other stakeholders from ours or adjacent industries.
APEX: This week’s APEX TECH has some exciting sessions and speakers lined up, talk to us a little bit about that and maybe what you see as the overall theme of this conference?
VON KRUECHTEN: I agree, this year’s lineup is pretty impressive. Connectivity is and will be the main driver for new digital business models and services in the cabin.
The first two days of the show focus around connectivity, its evolution and disruption potential for legacy IFE business models. Day three digs deeper into advertising and content meta data-related innovations and business potential. As an overall theme I would see the increasing proliferation of high speed (and low latency) connectivity in aircraft cabins and the opportunity this brings.
APEX: There’s been a definite convergence of IFE and IFC of late, how do you think airlines can best prepare for the ever-evolving demands of tech-savvy passengers moving forward?
VON KRUECHTEN: IFE and IFC have to ultimately converge as passengers demand it. (Free) internet onboard is a key enabler for passengers to remain in control of their personal space and experience. This desire will only increase as new IFC solutions become available, and airlines start and/or continue to cater to this core passenger request.
To address future passenger needs, systems onboard need to become more flexible by adopting and pushing a software-first development mindset. The goal must be to drastically lower the cost and time to make changes to the passengers’ onboard digital experience. Thus being able to react to passenger needs much quicker, being able to tailor experiences better and lower the hurdles to innovation on board.