September 8 2021  |  Cabin Equipment

AERQ prepares to bring platform to Long Beach

By Rick Lundstrom

This is a special feature from PAX Tech’s September 2021 AIX Virtual digital edition.

The AERQ Class divider can be clear or opaque

The elegant images of touch screens and starry-sky cabins that are part of the AERQ platform portfolio of products convincingly display the important collaboration of consumer and aviation electronics and other technology that players in the industry have been striving to combine for years.

The AERQ Welcome Board shows a fictional flight — Q162 from Hamburg to Seoul — driving home the collaboration between Lufthansa Technik and consumer electronics giant LG Electronics, which teamed up to launch the company into the aviation supply world in 2019. AERQ (a name combining AERO and IQ) will be able to show its platform— masked-face-to-masked-face — for the first time this fall when the industry gathers in Long Beach for the APEX/IFSA EXPO.

AERQ Managing Director Arnd Kikker

During the past 18 months AERQ has kept busy, adding to its staff of around 150 people, sponsoring virtual events and working to secure launch customers for its open IT platform that combines elements of hardware, software and data solutions “which ultimately gives airlines the tools at hand in order to design the digital space within the cabin in a new fashion,” said AERQ’s Co-Managing Director Arnd Kikker.

Kikker spoke with PAX Tech from Hamburg on a rainy afternoon in August about the collaboration and what each of the companies brought to the table. Though the staff is predominantly employees from Lufthansa Technik, a half-dozen employees from LG are part of the Hamburg-based team. While Lufthansa Technik will supply the necessary knowhow required to operate products in the aircraft cabin, LG will manufacture the sleek-looking screens and 4K monitors, along with Cabin Digital Signage that a passenger would see in a fully kitted out cabin interior of AERQ products.

All are part of an “open IT” platform that pulls together onboard touchpoints and software that allows and airline to customize the passenger experience. One of the first products that Kikker says will be available will be the Welcome Board which could be in aircraft cabins in the second half of next year. Designed to be lightweight the Welcome Board can be made in sizes up to 65 inches.

While the Welcome Board can be used for mood lighting, personalization and customization, the Ceiling Panel can give passengers a facsimile of the sky above them with the help of organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) that can display a field of stars and other features. AERQ is developing an Inseat System that gives passengers the possibility of enjoying inflight entertainment on their own devices.

The OLED feature is a cutting-edge visual technology. It is made by layering a series of organic thin films between two conductors that emit a bright light when electrical current is applied, according to OLED-Info. OLED displays do not need backlighting making them thinner and more efficient than LCD displays. OLED technology can be used to create not only transparent displays, but displays on flexible material as well.

AERQ expects to first market its Welcome Board in the second half of 2022

Other AERQ products have attracted the attention of organizers of the Crystal Cabin Awards. Shortlisted for the Awards in 2020 was the company’s Transparent Class Divider, which divides cabin classes and incorporates, content while remaining transparent. This year the company’s concepts of “QTouch” which enables passenger to control the in-seat display with hand gestures, and “QSound” which provides an individualized sound bubble without headphones have been shortlisted for 2021.

What the company seeks now is a launch customer. AERQ has been working with airframe manufacturers in hopes of getting its products into their catalog of offerings as well as seeking out prime customers for retrofit. Kikker sees the company’s products as a great addition of any airline offering but realistically sees the first customers as airlines with smaller fleets or used within a certain aircraft type of a larger airline.

The company’s offices are located in the Aviation Cluster, a group of Hamburg businesses that specialize in aerospace. The company joined the Hamburg Aviation Network and also APEX early this year.

''Although it is a challenging time for our industry, we believe that it can be an opportunity, too. We feel that especially now given the current circumstances digital and passenger centric products will flourish,” said Sang Soo Lee, Co-Managing Director at AERQ, in the announcement of the company’s joining the Hamburg Aviation Network.

The aim of AERQ is not to merely bring enticing and attractive technology into the cabin, but also technology that creates value and brings the world of consumer electronics into the passenger experience. The goals are to bring products to airlines that see the passenger more holistically “giving him opportunities and services that enhance digital experience which drives loyalty and gives the airline business opportunities that drive ancillary revenue,” says Kikker.

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