Home5GLufthansa gets spectrum licence, deploys Nokia private 5G for remote engine checks

Lufthansa gets spectrum licence, deploys Nokia private 5G for remote engine checks

Note, this story has been referenced and updated in a new post, Lufthansa doubles-down with second private 5G trial – with help from Vodafone, which can be found here.

German airline Deutsche Lufthansa (Lufthansa) has gained a spectrum licence for operating private LTE and 5G in the 3.7-3.8 GHz band in Germany. The licence is with Lufthansa subsidiary Lufthansa Technik, which provides technical aircraft services to airline carriers. 

Lufthansa Technik has built a 5G network with Nokia at its Hamburg facility to enable remote inspection of engine parts for its civil aviation customers. The company is managing the network internally. Nokia described the 5G deployment as “fully functional”.

The 3.7-3.8 GHz band in Germany is dedicated to enterprises for to operate private industrial campus networks. Siemens and Bosch have private licences at 3.7-3.8 GHz in Germany; Volkswagen is also believed to have a licence.

Lufthansa Technik has set up a test case, for ‘virtual table inspection’ using 5G setup in Hamburg. The trial is designed to allow customers to test engine parts with its team in Hamburg remotely, over a 5G video-link, without being required to leave their own workshops.

The standard route for aviation companies checking aircraft components with Lufthansa Technik is to travel to the firm’s plant in Hamburg to carry out inspections on components as their engines are overhauled. It means engines have to be entirely disassembled for checking, with individual parts shipped to Hamburg. 

The trial system will see “collaborative” inspections of engine parts over a high-definition video link.

The idea is the new private 5G network, offering “industrial grade” reliability, alongside ring-fenced latency and bandwidth performance, precludes customers from physically attending inspections; instead they are able to provide live high-definition video feeds of their engine overhauls in their own facilities to the Lufthansa Technik team in Hamburg.

Nokia said: “Customers will be guided through the engine shop using a third-party mobile device that provides real-time, high-resolution video streaming with mechanics and engineers. This will allow virtual inspection of dismantled parts enabling joint decision making about inspected components.”

Nokia has installed its Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) solution for the setu, billed as a “plug-and-play digital automation platform” that scales from small local deployments to multiple sites of large systems, all managed from the same web portal. It said its DAC is “very easy to handle”, and that Lufthansa Technik is “running the network on its own, with Nokia on standby to support”.

Lufthansa Technik will configure and adapt the network to meet the project’s needs, it said. “Remote, high-resolution screen inspection calls for high-bandwidth and low-latency capability to accommodate demanding upload and download speeds as well as adequate computing power to handle the processing requirements of live transmission,” it said in a statement. 

Soeren Stark, in charge of technical operations, logistics and IT at Lufthansa Technik, commented: “The first application cases already impressively demonstrate the valuable contribution 5G technology can make to the aviation industry. It will also pave the way for numerous new innovations at Lufthansa Technik that will benefit our company, our employees and also our customers.”

Claudius Noack, project lead at Lufthansa Industry Solutions, said: “In early phases, the private wireless network has shown to be technically first rate as well as being flexible to deploy and easy to tailor to our applications and work environment.”

Kathrin Buvac, president of Nokia’s enterprise division, said: “This application captures the essential value of fast, secure 5G private wireless networking to help improve operational efficiency, productivity and service. It highlights the potential for new ways of working that benefit not only our customers, but also the markets they serve.”

She added: “Lufthansa Technik has a strong reputation for innovation. By being a ‘first mover’ and investing in private wireless today, it has the opportunity to gain a clear competitive advantage over those who choose to wait. Our industrial-grade wireless connectivity provides the platform to capture the benefits of digitalization and opens the door to many new innovations that are set to transform industry.”

Nokia said earlier this month it signed “nearly” 40 new customers for private LTE networks in the three months to the end of 2019, growing its private LTE client base by around 50 per cent in the period. Nokia now has contracts for private LTE networks with 130 customers in total, it said.

The Finnish vendor drew attention to recent deals with Germany-based train operator Deutsche Bahn for a 5G-based network for automated rail operations, and with Sendai City in Japan for private wireless connected drones.

Nokia claims to have deployed over 1,300 mission-critical networks in the transport, energy, large enterprise, manufacturing, webscale and public sector segments.

Nokia has also pioneered the private wireless space with many verticals, and now has over 130 large enterprise customers deploying private wireless networks in their industrial premises around the world.

Note, this story has been referenced and updated in a new post, Lufthansa doubles-down with second private 5G trial – with help from Vodafone, which can be found here.

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