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Jul 17, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

LiFi: Airlines set to use the technology in their aircraft from 2020

LiFi is a new technology that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for data transmission, as opposed to WiFi, which uses radio waves. If employed in aerospace, LiFi has the potential to transform both the overall passenger experience and enhance in-flight connectivity. 


LiFi (Light Fidelity), a new technology that transmits data through illumination, is attracting the interest of a number of airline companies. Faster and less expensive than WiFi, it could transform the whole passenger experience. In September 2019, Air France will become the first carrier in the world to trial LiFi in flight, as reported by the specialist website Tom Travel.  


Vastly superior performance to WiFi 


Held in Paris on 12-13 June 2019, the Global LiFi Congress brought actors from the aerospace world together to discuss the usage of LiFi technology in aircraft cabins. The event highlighted the many advantages that LiFi has over WiFi and showcased the merits of a technology that is just beginning to break through. 

According to experts, the use of LiFi on board would save the equivalent of ten to 20 people in weight per aircraft. “Optical fibres are a thousand times lighter than copper,” said Serge Berrenger, Senior VP Innovation and R&T. “LiFi will allow airline companies to do away with data communication boxes beneath seats, each of which weigh a kilogram.” 


Faster bank transactions  


LiFi connection speeds are nearly 100 times faster than those of WiFi. That remarkable performance could result in quicker bank transactions onboard  planes. “At the moment, airlines have to wait to until a plane lands before in-flight transactions can be approved,” said Micheline Perrufel, an engineer with Orange. “But in the future, flight attendants will be able to approve in-flight payments immediately thanks to the installation of LiFi in the cabin.” 

As well as offering new applications for passengers, LiFi will also bring benefits for pilots. According to Tom Travel, it is safer than WiFi and does not pose any risk of electromagnetic interference. Airbus is another company considering the possibility of installing LiFi in cockpits with a view to connecting pilots controls and equipment in a way that is simpler and safer.


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