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  • LED Lighting System For Aircraft Applications
    Nov 28, 2018

    In recent years, the global air transport market has prospered, and major airports are constantly refreshing passenger throughput. At the same time, however, competition among airlines is increasing, and comfort has gradually become an important criterion for passengers to choose airlines. Although on-board meals can also slightly alleviate the discomfort of passengers on the road, airlines must adopt other innovative means to enhance their brand competitiveness in order to win more passengers while profit margins are being squeezed.


    Cabin lighting system is one of the means. Psychological research shows that color can affect people's psychological state. The hospital has made a lot of efforts to use this theory, such as adjusting the color lights of indoor lighting and wall paint to help patients recover. Similarly, some airlines have also begun to try to introduce soft orange and sunset red in the cabin to help passengers go to sleep.


    But ten years ago, almost all passengers on the passenger plane could only be illuminated by fluorescent lights and halogen reading lights above the head (these lighting methods are still very common nowadays), and passengers can only choose between three states: bright, dim or off. Under such lighting conditions, the passenger's entire flight process is not in the dark night military flight, or in the bright working compartment.


    Later, with the advancement of lighting technology, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offered another option. By combining the three types of red, green and blue lamp cores, manufacturers can produce LED lights of any color and brightness. Unlike fluorescent and incandescent lamps that emit only light that is diffused in all directions, the LED light has a strong directivity and can be used as a direct source. In addition, the principle of LED light illuminating is directly converted from light energy into light energy, which has less loss during energy conversion and is therefore very energy efficient.


    More importantly, the LED lamp also has good stability. Although it can't give the exact value of the normal working time before the fault, it is certain that the life of the LED lamp is 30 times or even longer than the life of the ordinary fluorescent lamp. . Aircraft cabin interior manufacturer B/E Aerospace said that many LED lamp assemblies have a longer life than the aircraft itself and can last up to tens of thousands of hours.


    LED lighting system has become the mainstream of interior modification


    The first passenger aircraft to use full LED lighting was a Boeing 787 aircraft operated by Japan All-Japan Airlines in 2011. Although the fourth-generation models such as the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737MAX, and Boeing 777X will all adopt LED lighting systems, most of the existing fleets will choose to install some of the existing traditional lighting systems when performing cabin interior modification. LED lights. However, there are also some areas where LED plus conversion requirements are not as strong, because the frequency of using low-voltage service lights in these areas is extremely low, and it is not worth the extra cost to complete the LED light conversion. For example, kitchen lighting is primarily used to illuminate the workbench and has the ability to dim the lights for night work. Therefore, although the installation of LED kitchen lighting for new aircraft can reduce its maintenance work accordingly, there is no need to specifically convert the existing traditional kitchen lighting of the aircraft into LED lights. But the cockpit lighting for flight safety is different. The cockpit lighting system provides a good visual environment for the pilot. Not only does it require night vision lighting, but it also requires directional lighting for maps, charts, and the like. LED lights are not only perfect for the above work, but also meet the needs of backlighting.


    Having the cabin interior design in line with aesthetic standards has become a priority in determining the direction of interior modifications. The current mainstream direction of interior modification is to create an elegant aisle and a bright cabin top that makes the cabin of the aircraft look more spacious, and the color temperature of the cabin lighting can change with the time of day. Although most of the above functions can be implemented without the addition of an LED system in the cabin, in the LED system, all functions can be accomplished by simply operating the control panel.


    The selection of the lighting system requires the approval of the airline to complete the application of some common standards. However, a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) is required before any LED-related modifications are performed on aircraft using fluorescent and halogen lamps. Even if the lighting system supplier has its own forensic team, applying for an STC certificate is still the most time-consuming task in the entire retrofit upgrade process.


    The consistency of the color of the light is the main challenge


    For aircraft using traditional lighting, B/E has introduced the lighting solution eFIT, which provides airlines with full white LED illumination and an accent color LED lighting system on the white base. In addition, B/E has introduced a Tapestry product that provides customers with a full color LED system solution. The Tapestry product uses an LED system that is 15% brighter than the original fluorescent lamps of the Boeing 737, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, and Boeing 777 aircraft, with a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of up to 60,000 hours. The product allows airlines to adopt a full-scenario lighting system in the cabin and highlights their brand features in the design of the cabin lighting system.


    In Tapestry and similar products, LED strips of red, green and blue are used. Since the light intensity of LEDs will weaken over time, and manufacturers cannot guarantee the same quality performance of each diode produced, how to ensure the consistency of LED light color is a huge challenge for lighting system suppliers. . At present, B/E company mainly ensures the consistency of LED light color through color management system, which has made great progress since ten years ago. Its Tapestry product contains color compensation system for overheating and aging.


    Schott, another professional lighting company in the United States, previously focused on LED lighting solutions, but is currently focusing on providing HelioJet solutions for the entire cabin of the aircraft. HelioJet is a patent-approved new LED system. The SCHOTT Group believes that the scene lighting system means mixing multiple colors of light together, but simply installing red, green and blue LED strips by mixing Airline customers will not be satisfied with the uniform lighting effects in the cabin.


    The HeriotJet system, which the SCHOTT Group is working with Lufthansa Technik, uses a glass tube consisting of two LEDs (white or red, green, blue) instead of the current LED strips, which are located at the ends of the glass tube. The fiber is propagated at a suitable angle and uniformly mixed together, and then the sensor is used to detect whether the color of the light is consistent, and the LED chip is used to adjust the color of the light according to the detection feedback result. The SCHOTT Group said that the company has been able to combine LED tubes from different manufacturers to produce light of a given color.


    The lighting system with LED strips requires 100 LED tubes per meter of cabin length and only 4 for the HelioJet system, which is a clear advantage for HelioJet. If a traditional LED light bar is used as the lighting system, the cabin of the wide-body aircraft requires about 11,000 LED lights, and the cabin of the narrow-body aircraft needs about 4,000. If any LED lamp fails and needs to be replaced, the manufacturer first needs to classify the LED lamp spare parts according to the accumulated working time and manufacturing standards, and select the replacement parts that are consistent with the faulty lamp state to ensure that. The consistency of the lights has to be said to be a very cumbersome and complicated task.


    Future LED improvement direction


    The leap from fluorescent to LED lights has to be said to be a major advancement in lighting systems, but there will be no similar leapfrogging changes in the next decade, but rather a process in which LED lighting systems will gradually replace traditional lighting systems. But it is foreseeable that the main improvement direction of the lighting system in the next decade will revolve around the LED system itself and the application of new technologies such as the Internet in LED systems.


    B/E believes that on-board lighting systems are becoming more intelligent and can even anticipate the needs of passengers and users in advance. The cabin management system combined with the intelligent lighting system can even quickly identify the passenger's preferences, and can adjust the appropriate lighting brightness at the right time without the need for the passenger to give instructions. At the same time, SCHOTT Group believes that there is still much room for improvement in LED technology. Manufacturers still need to strive to make LED lighting smarter, lighter, longer lasting and lower cost through continuous improvement under the premise of ensuring LED quality.


    Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels have been popular, and are known as the ideal material for future aircraft interiors. The OLED uses the electroluminescent layer to project light, thereby producing a curved surface and a flexible curved light-emitting panel. This allows any surface of the aircraft to become a potential screen, projecting a variety of dazzling scenes. Therefore, some people in the industry believe that the application of OLED will become more and more extensive in the near future. However, B/E believes that OLED technology may be more suitable for applications such as logos and advertisements, and is not suitable for general-purpose lighting. Because the SCHOTT Group believes that if you want to apply OLED on the aircraft, you first need to ensure that the MTBF of the OLED device is as high as 100,000 hours, but it seems that the performance of the OLED in the TV field is far from this standard. LED application in aircraft exterior lighting systems


    The aircraft's external lighting system LED modification work can be completed during overnight maintenance, but just as LEDs are modified inside the aircraft cabin, the conversion of halogen lamps outside the aircraft to LED lights also requires STC. Since external components such as navigation lights, anti-collision lights, and landing gear lights are critical to flight safety, the standards for applying for STC are more stringent than cabin modifications. For example, a retrofit supplier needs to demonstrate that the LED lamp used for retrofitting can operate for tens of thousands of hours at a certain intensity. Therefore, although new generation aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Airbus A350, Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737MAX and Boeing 777X have announced or are about to adopt LED external lighting systems, only a few aircraft have decided to convert their traditional external lighting equipment into LEDs. device.


    B/E believes that the decisive reason for most customers to replace their aircraft exterior lighting system with LED lights is that the current failure of halogen lighting systems has led to many unplanned replacements. LED lights have good reliability. On the latest aircraft, LED lights can even be installed in the service cabin, because LED lights have the ability to resist extreme cold, vibration, shock and pressure changes. However, the only drawback of LED lamps is that they are not resistant to high temperatures, and working in high temperature environments may shorten their service life.


    The external LED illumination system also provides good control of the beam. Halogen lamps require very high brightness to ensure that the aircraft's tail and wing lights meet visual requirements, but thanks to the good directionality of the LED lights, the LED lights can focus their light onto the visible area. In addition, the color temperature of the LED light is adjustable, which also makes the LED light's contrast higher, and can complete the lighting task farther away.


    Although airlines are currently only focusing on the innovation and design of cabin lighting systems, there are still many possibilities in the aircraft surface besides simple painting, such as electroluminescent layer and external lighting, and business jet users are expected to become this. The earliest trial of the aspect.


    LED application in emergency lighting system


    The ground emergency access indicator system is essential when passengers are exposed to dark, smoke-filled, and panicked cabins. The system needs to be characterized by high brightness, high reliability, and intuitiveness. The S.25.811 and S.25.812 chapters of the FAR regulations specify the text height, font scale, brightness, color and symbols of the emergency sign. The AC25.812-2 chapter supplements the requirements for ground lighting.


    In the past many years, aircraft aisles have used light bulbs to direct passengers to the nearest exit, but at least half of the aircraft in the global fleet currently use photoluminescence (PL) emergency lighting systems. Airlines generally prefer to use the PL system as an emergency channel indicator system because the PL system is lightweight, requires no power as a drive, is highly reliable, and requires little maintenance, just by placing it in aircraft cabin lighting. The charging process can be completed by lamp or natural sunlight for 30 minutes, and can be continuously illuminated in the dark for more than 9 hours.


    At present, most new aircraft have the PL system as the standard configuration of the emergency channel indicating system, and many airlines want to convert the existing aircraft's electric drive indicating system into a PL system. The saf-Tglo photoluminescence cabin ground emergency access indicator system produced by British aircraft interior lighting manufacturer STG Aerospace has been used on more than 9,000 aircraft. The saf-Tglo system is only required for two people on the Boeing 737. The class time can be completed. Currently, the saf-Tglo system offers customers a choice of more than 300 colors, allowing customers to choose a safely matched design based on carpet and floor patterns. The performance of the system is also increasing, and the latest products from STG have increased the brightness of the first generation saf-Tglo system by 70%.


    Photoluminescence (PL) identification systems (eg, exit signs, emergency access signs) have no impact on the identification system as much as the cabin ground emergency access indicator system, as most airlines still use electrically powered or self-illuminating equipment. Despite this, PL systems are becoming increasingly popular with their inherent advantages of low cost, light weight, ease of installation, and no maintenance.