SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2010 > Aviation

Light design on board the Boeing 777-300 jets from All Nippon Airways that fly the long-haul route Tokyo – New York: Large sidetables that feature special contour lighting from SCHOTT in softly glowing blue and an individual In-Seat-Reading-Light (below) were added to the comfortable seats in the new Business Class (on top). Photos: ANA

Feeling Great with Light

Interior designers of airplanes and automobiles are discovering the opportunities that intelligent interior lighting offers. SCHOTT is leading the way with innovative solutions.

Thilo Horvatitsch

When it comes to flying experiences that keep customers coming back, airlines are increasingly turning to elaborate design solutions. For instance, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) began offering its passengers exquisite comfort on the long distance route Tokyo – New York in April 2010. ANAs modern Boeing 777-300 fleet now offers a more spacious cabin atmosphere with new seats in all classes along with carefully thought out services. ”We will be guiding our passengers to inspiring moments and destinations, both literally and metaphorically,” said Shinya Katanozaka, Executive Vice President of Products and Services at ANA, at the November 2009 unveiling of the new fleet.

”The airlines have discovered that light can have an effect on a passenger’s perception and experiences.”

Dr. Armin Plichta, General Manager Aviation and Automotive, SCHOTT Lighting and Imaging

One of these design solutions can definitely be described as very inspiring: the comfortable new business class seats were upgraded with larger side tables that feature special contour lighting in softly glowing ANA blue. This SCHOTT product (see below) represents an innovative response to the airlines’ growing demand for intelligent cabin illumination solutions. Here, the main focus is on the overall impression of the cabin design and its emotional impact on passengers. ”The airlines have discovered that light can have an effect on passengers’ perception and experiences. Here, we are talking about specially designed lighting concepts that can increase perceived space and comfort, but also help passengers adjust to the various phases of flights,” explains Dr. Armin Plichta, General Manager, Aviation and Automotive at SCHOTT Lighting and Imaging. Flexible glass fibers that emit light on the sides can be used to highlight contours and enhance the overall cabin ambience. This type of illumination also helps passengers find their way through the cabin safely. In addition, special lighting effects create the illusion of more space and size. The latest mood lighting concepts take this even one step further: gently adjusting the light on a long-distance flight has a positive effect on passengers’ biorhythms and alleviates symptoms of jet lag. Other concepts focus on illumination that follows the flight position: soothing light for take-off situations, brighter light for reading and working during the flight, and a subdued illumination that creates a dinner atmosphere when meals are served. Last but not least, light and color are instruments for airlines like ANA to underscore the ”look and feel” of the company brand and establish it more firmly in the minds of their passengers.
Futuristic lighting concepts for aircraft cabins seek to increase the illusion of having more space and greater comfort, prepare passengers for the various phases of flight and even ­influence their biorhythms to help alleviate symptoms of jet lag. Photos: SCHOTT/T. Nowak
None of this would be possible without specialized ex- pertise, however. ”Designers know how space, colors and light work together to influence the flying experience. Engineers are aware of both practical demands and ways to convert design objectives into market-ready products. This is why we combine these skill sets to create a wide variety of lighting solutions that meet each customer’s specific needs,” Dr. Plichta says.

SCHOTT is seeing increased interest from not only the aviation, but also the automotive industry. ”We’re taking part in several car manufacturers’ concept studies and talking to designers and pre-developers,” notes Stephan Schabacker, Business Manager Automotive. Especially in the luxury and middle-market segments, car makers are turning to new interior lighting concepts to help them stand out. They are focusing primarily on mood lighting concepts to create an attractive ­atmosphere that supports brand loyalty, rather than typical functional lighting. Another reason for this trend is that people in industrial societies are spending more and more time inside vehicles. Lighting strips on doors, in consoles and contours ­offer orientation and support individually adjustable lighting settings for various driving situations or longer trips.

”Products like our flexible contour lighting are exactly what the industry needs to create entirely new designs,” says Stephan Schabacker. Their trump card: unlike older lighting technology, these lights won’t distract drivers because they are unobtrusive even when people look directly at them. These products can also be manufactured for the automotive industry with plastic sheathing in various shapes for perfect installation. Stephan Schabacker thinks these lights have a bright future – after all, conditions are ideal: ”The automotive market for functional lighting is showing only weak growth, while mood and ambient lighting is growing at a double-digit rate,” he adds.

Related industries are also eager to take part in this new trend. According to Armin Plichta, “Everything that has become normal interior lighting inside an airplane or car is now spreading to the entire transportation industry, in buses, trains and yachts. More and more often, companies are differentiating themselves from the competition using the levers of design, ­customization and eco-friendly policies instead of technology or safety.”

Flexible contour lighting

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SCHOTT Aviation
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SCHOTT Aviation