Those attending the Monaco Yacht show last September were treated to a tantalising glimpse of Lufthansa Technik’s latest designs.

Jill Stockbridge

However, at the Dubai Air Show in November, the full concept of ‘The Explorer’ was launched, and its unique attributes were revealed. Wieland Timm, Head of Sales VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services, at Lufthansa Technik spoke to Jill Stockbridge about the new design.

Lufthansa Technik’s latest pioneering design is based on the current trend for Explorer superyachts, which are equally as comfortable in the Arctic, as they are among the islands of the Caribbean. These yachts are being designed and built to completely fulfil their adventurous owners’ wishes to go absolutely anywhere at any time and really explore the world.

Jan Grube, Sales Director in Lufthansa Technik’s VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services division, who accompanied the development of the new study, said: “We have intensively analysed the visual context and the typical elements of the Explorer yacht class in order to transfer the design idea behind it from the water to the air, and into a new cabin design. The interior elements, which also integrate brand-new features, are therefore deliberately kept multi-functional.”

Wieland Tim, Head of Sales VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services, at Lufthansa Technik, explained: “Lufthansa Technik regularly develops new VIP aircraft cabin concepts that both meet the latest market requirements and represent the latest trends. With this red-hot study we continue this tradition in an innovative way. We are developing the ‘Explorer Design’ for a completely new target group.

“We have intensively analysed the visual context and the typical elements of the explorer yacht class in order to transfer the design idea from the water to the air.”

“In our analysis we found a lot of high net worth individuals are interested in exploring the world. They want to have a customised guided tour, to visit areas that are most interesting to them, whether that is hunting, fishing, diving, or safari. But often they also want to discover the world with a small group of friends. We combined these needs and found a market for ‘cruise ships’ in the air – at the very highest level – and from this came the Explorer concept.

“Due to Covid there are a lot of people who do not want to go on a cruise ship, and even if you have your own yacht you are limited. You can’t go around the world in two-to-three weeks on a yacht. With an aircraft you have the flexibility to see the whole world, which is ideal for people who have limited time for holidays and family. This is a five-star flying hotel, with special suites and all the elements on board that are mandatory to make you feel comfortable travelling wherever you want to go to fulfil your interests,” he added.

Unique features

The Explorer concept is designed for the ACJ330 widebody aircraft, but there’s a twist. Timm explained: “The beauty of this aircraft is it a converted cargo aircraft. That means that it has a large cargo door at the front of the aircraft, which we have incorporated into the design as a veranda. You can sit outside on the aircraft, enjoying a drink from the bar, which is just behind the veranda. This is unique and allows you to feel at home in any environment.”

As there is already a cargo conversion programme for the A330, owners of A330s who choose the Explorer design, could opt to retro fit the cargo door to create this feature.

Another unique element is the projection system, which turns a large expanse of the interior walls and ceiling of the front area of the aircraft into a show of your choice. Timm said: “The interior lining can show one of 10,000 pictures or films, so you have a totally individual environment, customised to wherever you are going. If you are going whale-watching, you can create an underwater feeling. In the film that we provide, there are whales swimming around, which can create the right atmosphere. With such a large choice, if you are going hunting or to the pyramids, we can display it.”

The unique system has been developed by Diehl Aerospace, and integrated into the Explorer design concept. It can also be combined with an external camera, linked to the projectors, which will show you your surroundings as you fly. As well as being interesting, it can be used to change the function of the space, by changing the ambiance.

Timm said: “The idea is that the interior space is flexible and multifunctional. The table and chairs in the dining area are removable, so when you are not using them for dining or conference, the space can convert into a night club. It becomes a dance floor, with full disco lighting.”

Belly bonanza

The advantage of an explorer yacht, is often the storage space, giving owners the ability to bring as many toys as they wish. Lufthansa Technik has also taken this into consideration. Towards the back of the aircraft is a staircase next to a glass floor section. From here passengers can look down into the belly of the aircraft, a huge adaptable space, which can be customised for the interests of the users.

Timm said: “In the belly of the aircraft is room to store all the toys you need, to discover and explore the part of the world you are visiting – such as submarines, special vehicles or motorbikes. We expect to put in a cigar lounge, or you could set it up as a golf range, with monitors. It is flexible because the room can be adjusted to suit the clients’ needs or to suit the tour. We are currently working with Brabus on a Mercedes that would be specifically designed for this aircraft.”

On the main deck, as with the company’s A350 concept design, is a spa and gym area, allowing full treatments to be given, but the hold area could be set up with more serious medical equipment.

Timm said: “It is a flexible space. You can equip it with whatever you like. It is a totally new way of travelling, taking all the toys with you, and using the aircraft as a base camp for your explorations.”


While Lufthansa expects interest to come from individual owners, predominantly in the Middle East and Asian markets, there is also potential for a new kind of luxury travel charter. Timm said: “We are currently offering a design with between 16-20 passengers, for a highly individualised experience. However, for a commercial charter it could be increased. At the back of the aircraft there are four fully-equipped suites, with bathrooms, and then there are some smaller areas, which offer more of a First Class style. This could be increased and if the aircraft is a bigger size, such as a cargo version of the 777, it offers a huge range of flexible space.”