Human beings have evolved to thrive in dynamic natural light. Indeed, the colour and intensity of light controls our circadian rhythm, positively affecting our bodies and minds throughout the day. In other words, light isn’t just important for our visual performance, it’s important for our biological performance, that is, our health and wellbeing. Disturbing our circadian rhythm can result in insomnia, disorientation and fatigue.
So what are the implications of this for lighting in a closed environment such as an aircraft cabin? In a talk I gave recently, entitled “Let there be light”, at the Aircraft Cabin Maintenance Conference in London, I addressed just this question.
For a start, there are many components to cabin lighting. Even during daylight flying, natural light is having to work with (or against) the cabin’s ceiling lights, its sidewall lights, its emergency signage and reading lights, its galley lights, its photoluminescent floor path lighting and more. A complex cocktail of illumination! Further, there can be distinct differences in cabin appearance in response to the lighting environment, depending on the age and condition of the aircraft interior.
The key is to ensure that each aspect of cabin lighting is not only task-optimised but also integrated within a holistic cabin view that is aesthetically pleasing in itself, as well as being supportive of the airline’s brand identity. Let’s also not forget the need to remain compliant with regulatory aspects of maintaining charge in photoluminescent floor path marking systems, such as STG’s safTglo®. Quite a feat; but with the right understanding of the total lighting environment and appropriate implementation of LED technology, one that is now possible.
The flexibility and programmability of some of the newer aircraft cabin LED lighting systems, such as STG Aerospace’s liTeMood®, enable the implementation of a lighting philosophy that addresses the physical and emotional wellbeing of passengers, while at the same time improving airline metrics. The resulting weight and energy savings – as well as an enhanced passenger experience – can make a meaningful improvement to an airline’s competitiveness.
Nigel Duncan discusses a more holistic view of aircraft cabin lighting (photo credit: STG Aerospace)
Whilst aircraft cabin LED mood lighting systems are suitable for all cabin classes, premium installations are typically highly sophisticated and complex to install and operate. However, simpler solutions can significantly enhance the experience of the 94% of passengers who travel in economy – and at a more affordable cost. liTeMood® for example, can be installed quickly and easily either to new aircraft or, in most cases without any aircraft modifications, as part of a fleet refurbishment. Its reliability ensures a minimum of ongoing maintenance and it can be operated by the crew without any specialist training.
Although the simplicity of liTeMood® can be deceptive, its design incorporates the latest LED technology and research into the human factors of light – resulting in a transformative effect on individual passenger comfort and wellbeing while providing the airline with impactful brand differentiation.