It can be hard to imagine all the possibilities for fitting out business jet cabins. This has prompted cabin interior and maintenance specialist Lufthansa Technik to develop the technology to give engineers and technicians a three-dimensional glimpse of what’s possible.
The new Virtual Fitcheck system can create–through the use of advanced computer graphics, a bulging digital database, infrared cameras and special glasses–a 3-D virtual cabin. In practical terms, it will allow various elements of a business jet cabin installation to be trial-fitted in a 130-sq-ft (3.7-cu-m) glass cube known as the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (Cave), saving time and money.
The Cave allows most of the cabin components–galley monuments, side ledges, lavatory cabinetry, sidewalls–to be designed and checked before the start of production, ensuring that the finished product will fit perfectly into the customer’s airplane without need of a test fitting.
Engineers and airframers can enter the glass cube and move about freely. Wearing special glasses, they can observe, investigate and identify problem areas more accurately than at a workstation.
The data gained through the Cave then flows automatically into production, eliminating inaccuracies or errors before the cabin components are built in the workshops.
The new technology is being developed under a project due to run to 2013, funded by the German federal Ministry of Education and Research and implemented through the excellence cluster for the aerospace region of Hamburg, where Lufthansa Technik is based.
According to Lufthansa Technik team leader and project manager Oliver Thomaschewski, for the remaining two years of the project, “We want to concentrate on making the technical options created accessible to all our staff [and] we shall also be focusing on making full use of the novel virtual reality.”
In the medium term, Lufthansa Technik (Booth H220) expects to outfit the first complete cabin interior using Virtual Fitcheck in two years. In the long term, it expects findings from the project to filter into other parts of the Hamburg-based center’s cabin completion and maintenance processes.