Aviation Lighting

Reading or dreaming without being disturbed: SCHOTT developed the reading lamps and electronic controls for the new Business Class seats from Recaro.
Frank Littek

Creative Lighting Enhances the Air Travel Experience

In order to compete more successfully, airlines all over the world are attempting to improve the comfort on board their airplanes. One way is to introduce lighting solutions that make flights more enjoyable for passengers.

According to current market forecasts, air passenger volumes are expected to increase each year by approximately five percent until 2023. As this suggests, the prospects for airlines are quite good. At the same time, competition between these companies is becoming fiercer and, thus forcing the airlines to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Today, promising reliability and safety is not enough, because these qualities have been taken for granted for some time. Improving the interiors of airplanes is a different story. Here, plenty of potential for improvement still exists. Lighting represents one key area. Creative, modern solutions make it possible to substantially improve comfort on board airplanes. In this regard, SCHOTT already ranks among the leading players.
Modern LED lighting solutions offer significant freedom of design and, thus, opportunities to look different than the competition.
“Airlines are increasingly asking for creative lighting solutions,” explains Dr. Armin Plichta, responsible for Aviation Lighting at SCHOTT. At the trade fair Aircraft Interiors, the world’s largest aircraft interior exhibition that took place in Hamburg, Germany, airline representatives expressed immense interest.

Twelve years ago, SCHOTT managed to break into the InSeat Reading Light market by offering fiber optic systems. In comparison to conventional lighting, these are known for their lower maintenance costs. Today, the company complements its fiber optic systems with LED lighting solutions that offer additional advantages, including low power consumption, light weight and various color options.

With seating, for example, SCHOTT was very involved in developing the lighting for the new, groundbreaking Business Class aircraft seats from Recaro that are being put to use in airplanes from both Airbus and Boeing. This seat for long-range flights is equipped with electric motors that allow for individual seat adjustments. It can even be turned into a very comfortable bed at the press of a button. SCHOTT also manufactures the electronic controls for Recaro, by the way.
Airlines are increasingly relying on the capabilities of creative lighting based on LED technology. SCHOTT ranks among the leading suppliers to the aviation industry.
The lighting solution is the real hit, however. The reading light was incorporated into the headrest in such a way that the beam of light allows passengers to read more easily, without disturbing fellow passengers. Despite its advanced technology, it is unparalleled in terms of its low power consumption, in part thanks to technology from SCHOTT. It requires only a few watts per seat, less than a normal room light fixture. The combination of fiber optics and LED technology offers advantages that extend well beyond the seat.

For example, fiber optics even makes it possible to create a discreet looking starry sky on the cabin ceiling. Passengers will soon be able to experience this on their own. Illuminated frames for aircraft windows or LEDs installed underneath the luggage compartments, whose comforting light allows for the meals served to look more appealing. In the future, such capabilities of creative lighting will definitely become more prevalent in airplanes. Airlines will be able to explore many completely new ways of designing their cabins and differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Fiber optics contributes towards safety

The use of fiber optics inside aircraft not only offers interesting ways of designing interiors. Data transmission is yet another area of future application. Glass fibers offer numerous advantages over conventional electric cables, when it comes to transmitting information. That is particularly important with respect to aviation safety. Glass fibers hardly age and are extremely resistant to both chemicals and changes in temperature. If a connection is damaged, glass fiber cannot cause dangerous sparks, unlike electric cables. This issue has contributed towards airplane accidents in the past.

Furthermore, the cable requirements inside aircraft are increasing in terms of their complexity, due to more and more advanced infotainment systems, for example. Here, as well, fiber optics could help substantially to relieve this situation. This is particularly true of a new development from SCHOTT. The company has developed new cable casings made of woven glass and silk for use in fiber optic waveguides. The material used is inflammable and, therefore, represents an ideal solution for the growing global demand for cable.
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