Lufthansa Technik to launch Project U later this year

Customers now have more input in the design of their VIP interiors with Lufthansa Technik.

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By  Laura Barnes Published  May 4, 2005

Lufthansa Technik is to officially launch Project U, its VIP interior makeover scheme later in the year, after a successful pilot programme that began last October. In contrast to other VIP interior services, Project U focuses on getting the customer involved with the design process rather than leaving it to a team of engineers and designers. “Project U is not just a product, it is a philosophy. It is much more customer-centric than any other programme there is because it is for the customer,” said Jan Nieberle, design engineer, interior & supply systems, VIP & government jet maintenance, Lufthansa Technik. The main idea behind the new programme is to get the customer much more involved in designing their interior, hence the name Project ‘U.’ Clients are offered the chance to work with the engineers and designers to come up with a design that exactly meets their specific tastes and requirements. “Everyone gets involved from the off, from the very beginning. This is because we want to be able to design innovative cabins with a personal touch, and for that to happen we all have to be involved,” says Nieberle. “The client also gets involved as much or as little as they want. Today, people think interior overhauls are like buying a car. You go to the company, you talk for an hour, you discuss specifications and then that is it, sold. This process [Project U] is not like that — instead, the customer can take as much time as they like,” states Nieberle. The design process in Project U starts with the customer being taken through a series of ‘emotions’ to come up with a base of knowledge about their likes, dislikes and hobbies. The process begins with a series of consultations looking at images of places, foods, consumer goods and scenery. From these, a personalised ‘mood board’ is created that guides the eventual design of the interior. “We want to know all about the person’s interests and hobbies, as we may be able to integrate this into the aircraft,” explains Nieberle. “Initially, however, we do not discuss the physical layout of the aircraft and this is something that irritates me when you go to a completion centre. The first thing they ask is how many seats you would like but that has nothing to do with your style and what is important to you. Instead, we have a consultation before we move onto the formal side of the process,” adds Nieberle. In this ‘formal’ stage, Lufthansa Technik is also looking to make use of new technologies that allow for a more customised environment inside the cabin. Previously, engineers have viewed interior projects in terms of a set number of seats and gallies, but Project U will focus on how these seats and areas will be used and tailor them for specific functions. “Most aircraft have one type of seat that is approved for take off and landing, but you can have other seats. In my house, for instance, I do not use just one chair for eating, sleeping and watching television; I have a variety. An aircraft can have this as well. You will still have the take off and landing seat, but there is now the technology to have any style of furniture you want,” he added. Although Project U will not be formally launched until November, Lufthansa Technik already expects at least three clients to use the programme, including one client from Saudi Arabia, Middle East Jet, which is already in its Life Cycle programme. However, the company expects the uptake for Project U to be quicker in the USA and Europe than in the Middle East. “In the past, owners from the USA and Europe have been very creative and vocal about what they want. The Middle East, however, is relatively new to the market so the participation levels in the initial consultation stage may not be as high as their European counterparts. However, this is changing as a younger generation of aircraft owners emerge,” concludes Nieberle.

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