Image via STG Aerospace

Image via STG Aerospace

APEX Insight: STG Aerospace’s blue-glowing photoluminescent floor-path marking system is a colourful, industry-wide breakthrough for cabin ambience and emergency egress lighting.

In an industry where “blue-sky thinking” has both literal and figurative connotations, it’s fitting that STG Aerospace was acknowledged at Monday night’s APEX Awards ceremony in the Best Cabin Innovation category for its blue-hued floor-path marking system. The company was also a finalist for the Best Passenger Comfort Innovation category.

“We’ve always know that green, a natural-glowing photoluminescent, has not been popular with a variety of airlines,” explains Nigel Duncan, chief executive officer of the UK-based lighting company. Introducing a new color option for emergency lighting is no small order: Apart from the technical development required, the new color also had to meet approval from regulatory compliance standards.

For Duncan and his team, blue was an obvious choice. “Blue is actually the color that’s most recognizable to the human eye … It’s the most visible range in the electromagnetic spectrum,” he explains. “But also, it really is the most popular color across multiple nations for the symbolization of trust, confidence, strength and loyalty.” He points to the logos of established brands such as Boeing, Airbus, American Express and IBM as examples of the color’s symbolism in practice.

But passengers likely won’t be seeing pink, purple or any additional colors in airline floorpath lighting anytime soon. “For now we do not want to come up with a plethora of colors in that area, assuming it’s technically possible. We just cracked blue,” Duncan says. “It’s possible that we may try to innovate for other aesthetic purposes that have nothing to do with regulatory compliance.”

Photoluminescent decos on Malaysia Airlines. Image via STG Aerospace

Photoluminescent decos on Malaysia Airlines. Image via STG Aerospace

In addition to emergency egress lighting, the company’s portfolio includes LED cabin lighting, installed now on 12 airlines. Various applications of photoluminescent lighting are also being explored, including for around in-seat power plugs. STG Aerospace customer Malaysia Airlines recently installed a green trim around the power plugs on its A380 fleet. At Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this April, the company introduced square-beam reading lights with direct beams that offer passengers more clarity and privacy.

“It’s exciting to be chosen as not just one finalist but as a finalist for two categories,” Duncan says. “I think it reflects the years of innovation we’ve been putting into trying to find more and more ways to make passenger-friendly developments with minimal invasion on the airline.”

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Paris, France.