This is a world-first for the air transport industry. Air France just tested new technology on one of their flights: Li-Fi, which provides data transmission through visible light. On October 30th, flight AF6114 from Paris-Orly to Toulouse-Blagnac was graced with twelve seats equipped with this new technology, developed by aircraft equipment manufacturer Latécoère.
A revolutionary system, tested by gamers
Li-Fi (Light-Fidelity) is a communication system that uses light to transmit data wirelessly. Dubbed the "Internet of Light", it's 100 times faster, consumes ten times less energy and is more secure than Wi-Fi. It is, therefore, a very suitable new wireless network solution, and will also be compatible with 5G.
To demonstrate the advantages of Li-Fi, gamers were welcomed on board. Finalists for the Ubisoft "Air France Trackmania Cup" competition competed at an altitude of 12,000 meters on a customized version of the game Trackmania² Stadium. The winner received a selection of Razer products, as well as two Paris-Montreal roundtrip tickets to visit Ubisoft Studios.
Higher speeds and capacity
Li-Fi generates "a completely stable multimedia data exchange at a very high speed and very low latency," as noted by Air France and Latécoère in a joint statement. More generally, this experience was an opportunity to assess the reactions of passengers. But not just that.
The integration of this technology into the cabin will change the way aircraft are designed. There are currently one-kilo boxes under the seats for data transmission. Optical fibre is a thousand times lighter than copper cables, and with Li-Fi, these boxes can be removed, thus reducing the weight of the aircraft, and at the same time, its fuel consumption.
"I am convinced that this experience will pave the way for new in-flight entertainment experiences for our customers, especially with regards to gaming," said Antoine Laborde, Air France's Innovation Manager. Ultimately, the airline hopes to have Li-Fi on all its commercial flights. "Li-Fi will revolutionize in-flight connectivity within the next 5 years," said Yannick Assouad, CEO of Latécoère.