Lufthansa Systems has developed a small, portable version of its BoardConnect IFE system that gives airlines the option of bringing on a low-cost, entry-level onboard entertainment system.

Italian airline Air Dolomiti is launch customer for the system and will start taking deliveries of the portable units later this year, Lufthansa Systems senior VP BoardConnect Norbert Muller told ATW at the APEX Expo in Portland, Oregon, this week.

The portable IFE systems weigh about two kilograms, or around 3.5lbs, with rechargeable batteries, and can be locked to secure movie content and stored in overhead bins. One server unit can provide streaming to 50 passengers and an airline can place two or three units on an aircraft to provide coverage for a typical narrowbody jet.

“This makes for an easy transition, low-risk IFE system for an airline that otherwise could not afford a traditional installed system. All the software is already there and it’s highly flexible,” Muller said.

Lufthansa Systems also announced at APEX that it has entered into a strategic partnership with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). Under the agreement, the aviation IT specialist will make BoardConnect available for use in the research facility’s cabin simulator being constructed in Otttawa. At the same time, specialists from both organizations will collaborate on the further development of the IFE system.

The NRC is building a brand new cabin comfort and environment research facility designed to simulate the entire airport and aircraft environment, from check-in to cabin – including vibration, noise and in-flight entertainment. It will assist airlines, aircraft manufacturers and other aviation industry suppliers to investigate the passengers’ travel experience and develop new technologies.

“This partnership will enable us to benefit from each other’s expertise and experience and has the potential to greatly enhance the creative development of our BoardConnect platform in the future,” Muller said

The research center will open in summer 2016; BoardConnect is expected to be installed by the end of this year.