Flydubai first to operate 737 with new Sky Interior and fiber optic-based IFE system

Dubai-based low-cost carrier flydubai on October 27 became the first airline to take delivery of the Boeing 737-800 Next-Generation (737-800NG) aircraft with the new ‘Sky Interior’ installed. Derived largely from the cabin design innovations on Boeing’s forthcoming 787 Dreamliner, the new 737 Sky Interior (the name comes from the signature blue-sky lighting) aims to give passengers a greater sense of space in the cabin.

Larger bins, redesigned windows and control panels, mood lighting
The new weight-neutral cabin interior has more headroom around the aisle seats thanks to redesigned lugagge bins which, although larger, take up less space and less effort to close, thanks to a new pivot mechanism. Other design features are 787-style sculpted sidewalls that integrate the air vent, reducing overall cabin noise. Redesigned inner windows have increased the viewable area, while the actual size of the window itself has remained the same. The Sky Interior also includes a more intuitive placement of switches and call buttons and improved sound quality and clarity through new speakers in each passenger row.

Another feature of the 737NG cabin is mood lighting, which provides different lighting schemes (video here) ranging from a welcoming soft blue overhead sky simulation to a calm relaxing pallet of sunset colors. The LED-based mood lighting can be controlled via a new flight attendant panel.

Lumexis ‘fiber to the screen’
With its 189-seat 737-800NG, Flydubai is also the launch customer of a new ‘fiber to the screen’ (FTTS) in-flight entertainment system from Lumexis. Challenging Panasonic and Thales, Lumexis says that at an installed weight of 2kg per seat its fibre optics-based IFE system is as much as 50 percent lighter than traditional copper-wired IFE solutions. Lumexis’ FTTS system with credit card swipe capability is integrated in Recaro’s 3510 slimline seats for flydubai. According to flydubai CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith, “In-flight entertainment is very popular with passengers, but the traditional systems were prohibitively expensive for us as a low cost carrier. […] The FTTS system from Lumexis significantly reduces the cost of the system overall, and makes it far lighter than other IFEs in use today. […] Our IFE will be available as an optional extra and we plan to offer functionality on our IFE system that other airlines traditionally don’t have.”

Flydubai, Malaysia Airlines, Jetairfly, Continental, Norwegian
Flydubai will put the new 737-800 into service in mid-November and will receive three more 737-800NG aircraft before the end of 2010. In total flydubai has ordered 54 737s of whch 44 will have the Sky Interior and the Lumexis IFE system installed. Other airlines that will receive 737NGs with the new Sky Interior before year-end are Malaysia Airlines, Jetairfly, Continental, and Norwegian. Malaysia Airlines will operate its first 737NG commercial flight on 15 November from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Haneda via Kota Kinabalu. The airline expects to receive two more 737-800NGs this year. In total, Boeing holds orders for over 1,200 Sky Interior-equipped 737s from 46 customers, which accounts for more than half of its 737 backlog.

Next: 737 performance improvement
Since the Boeing 737 has experienced relatively few design changes since its debut 42 years ago in 1968, the Sky Interior cabin upgrade will be followed by a performance improvement in early 2012 that will deliver a 2 percent reduction in fuel consumption through a combination of aerodynamic, weight and engine improvements. Airbus, meanwhile, has introduced an interior upgrade with similar features on its A320 family in 2007 (among others operated by Virgin America). Airbus has said it will decide by the end of 2010 whether it will offer a new, fuel efficient engine for the A320 or introduce any other significant changes to the aircraft.

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