SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2013 > Aviation

Sophisticated reading light concepts play an important role on long-haul flights – whether you want to read, watch a movie or simply relax. Photo: VIRGIN AUSTRALIA

Flight to an Industry Standard

Virgin Australia was in need of new reading lights for its international aircraft fleet. Now, reading lights from SCHOTT are illuminating their passengers’ reading materials.

Thomas H. Loewe

Everyone who wants to read needs light, even inside an aircraft. However, passengers’ needs often vary, especially on long-haul flights. When flying from Los Angeles to Sydney, for instance. A Boeing 777 from Virgin Australia International departs late in the evening each day on its USA-Australia route and flies the entire distance in the dark. Some passengers try to escape by watching movies, listening to music or reading books. Still others simply want to be left alone. After all, the airplane is in the air for over 12 hours nonstop; it crosses the entire Pacific, the International Date Line and the Equator. “And sometimes it is difficult to relax with co-passengers browsing the aisles,” explains Klaus Portmanns. The Business Manager of Aviation at SCHOTT Lighting and Imaging is well aware of this problem from his own flying experiences. After all, the lights that are generally used are capable of illuminating the surrounding area as brightly as if it was daytime. Who then can fall asleep?
Virgin Australia arranged for the reading lights in the Business and Premium Economy classes of its international fleet to be replaced by reading lights from SCHOTT. Photo: B. Farris
Most airlines have already decided to install reading lights in higher class seating. Mounted to the seat, the lights don’t disturb other passengers. This might not be all that significant in terms of comfort; however, Portmanns notes that security guidelines also play an important role in the aviation industry, not just cost. ”It is difficult to develop a customized product that is compatible with all the different systems, considering how many seat and aircraft manufacturers there are,” he adds. The Reading Light System from SCHOTT helps to make this process a lot more efficient. The lighting platform that SCHOTT has developed together with aircraft manufacturers already meets all of the authorities’ requirements and fits into all of the existing systems. ”We feel that we are on the way to setting a new industry standard,” Portmanns says.

”We feel that we are on the way to setting a new industry standard.”

Klaus Portmanns, Business Manager of Aviation at Schott Lighting and Imaging
Lighting heads, materials, beam angles – the SCHOTT Reading Light System offers a wide variety to choose from in creating an unmistakable appearance. Photo: SCHOTT/H. Fischer
Seat manufacturers benefit because the platform is designed to accommodate various technical boundary conditions. It is compatible with every supply voltage and covers the normal spectrum of between 5 and 28 volts. At the same time, the airlines retain a great deal of freedom in the area of design. All parties involved benefit from greatly simplified processes true to the motto ‘Design and Simplicity.’ As Justin Murphy, Sales Office SCHOTT Australia states, ”Virgin Australia selected from various types of SCHOTT lighting heads, materials and beam angles and thus achieved an unmistakable appearance for their reading lights.”

The new SCHOTT Reading Light System also offers advantages when it comes to reengineering and retrofitting aircraft. Virgin Australia was forced to replace its previous reading lights due to technical defects. The retrofitting measures pertained to both the airline’s Business and Premium Economy classes in its international fleet. Yet another problem still had to be solved, however. The seats had different supply voltages. This is where the product developed by the lighting experts at SCHOTT was able to demonstrate its flexibility. ”When we heard about the unique advantages, we immediately decided to purchase these durable and yet flexibly adjustable reading lights from SCHOTT,” said Andrew Thie from the Engineering Group of Virgin Australia. This made it possible for the airline to equip its fleet with one consistent light design. The perfect interplay of form and engineering is now on its way to becoming the new industry standard, even including a comfort guarantee.  <
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