What the blazes is LiFi and why does Airbus offer it?

May 19, 2021
The LiFi monitor. Photo: J.V. Reymondon/Airbus

We’ve heard of Wi-Fi and Hi-Fi but what in blue blazes is LiFi?

It was a question raised by Airbus when it announced this week its corporate jets unit was the only manufacturer to offer “the next-generation communications technology onboard a corporate aircraft”.

It turns out it’s an in-flight entertainment (IFE) technology and Airbus has partnered with Latécoère Interconnection Systems (LIS) to develop a smart LiFi Monitor.

It turns out LiFi has been around since 2011 and it uses the modulation of light to transmit data and position between devices.

READ: Lufthansa bookings soar as Germany eases COVID restrictions.

It uses visible light as well as infrared and ultraviolet spectrums to transmit data at high speeds that could theoretically hit 100 Gigabits per second.

One of its advantages is the ability to safely function in areas otherwise susceptible to electromagnetic interference, such as aircraft cabins.

Airbus said the agreement with LCI made Airbus Corporate Jets the only aircraft manufacturer to offer the next generation of communication systems technology onboard a corporate aircraft.

The monitor is a multi-technology smart 4K unit that will also offer Wi-Fi and  Bluetooth.

It has analog audio output with USB-C ports as well as HDMI connections and features audio-video on-demand, casting, mirroring, web browser, live TV and integrated video conferencing.

The manufacturer aims to make the new technology, which can also be upscaled, available for retrofit on the more than 200 Airbus corporate jets already flying and for cabin outfitting before the end of the year.

But it is not alone in looking at the technology’s potential: French company Oledcomm tested LIFi at the 2019 Paris Airshow and said at the time it hoped to collaborate with Air France on future testing.

In other ACJ news,  the first section of the recently launched ACJ TwoTwenty arrived at the A220 Final Assembly Line in Mirabel, Canada, recently for the first Airbus corporate jet ever assembled in Canada.

The ACJ TwoTwenty was launched in late 2020 and has already won orders for six aircraft, with Comlux due to take the first delivery this northern winter as the exclusive outfitter for the first 15 aircraft.

Airbus says the bizjet will feature “unmatched personal space” with 73 sq. m. (785 sq.ft) of floor space and six, wide VIP living areas for up to 19 passengers.

It will have an intercontinental range, capable of flying up to 5,650 nm (10,500 km). or over 12 flight hours.