Image: STG Aerospace

When cabin lights go down, innovations from STG Aerospace light up.

STG Aerospace’s Innovation and Engineering Centre in Cwmbran, Wales, is illuminating with ideas. Patents designed at the facility include its color-changing mood lighting system; its square-beamed LED reading light, which minimizes light spill onto neighboring seats; its blueglowing photoluminescent emergency floor-path marking system, which is proving a popular replacement for the customary green color, now deemed too distracting due to its Halloween and Ghostbusters connotations; and its photoluminescent emergency and information signage, which reduces weight when it replaces halogen-lit, plastic-boxed exit signs.

“How lighting affects people is central to our philosophy.” Nigel Duncan, STG Aerospace

“Being at the cutting edge of research into how lighting affects people, physiologically and psychologically, is central to our product development philosophy,” says Nigel Duncan, STG Aerospace’s chief executive officer.

The facility includes laboratories that develop and test lighting for color, intensity and durability. The photoluminescent floor-path marking, for example, must endure flammability testing, resist liquid spillage and damage caused by stiletto heels. A goniophotometer is used for measuring the size, space and shape that lighting takes up, and an integrating sphere is used to analyze color.

The LED reading light, part of STG’s liTeMood range, is an affordable plug-and-play replacement for Boeing 737NG incandescent reading lights. They reduce power consumption by 70 percent and are up to 30 kilograms lighter than original fluorescent lighting. “Traditional lights can flow into the passengers seated on either side of you, and this square-beamed light is designed to shine precisely on your personal space,” Duncan says. “Its high quality also allows you to see what you’re reading more easily, as it reduces the glare on magazines, e-books and tray tables.”

Duncan adds that the color-changing mood lighting may also boost the onboard retail environment. “Airlines are constantly looking for ways that they can improve their revenues,” he says. “It creates a more contemporary cabin ambience that narrows the gap between legacy aircraft and those installed on the latest systems. Findings also suggest it is an important factor in influencing the retail environment.”

For STG Aerospace, contracts for lighting retrofits aimed at upgrading commercial airline fleets make up a large part of the company’s growth. China Eastern Airlines has enlisted STG to retrofit 125 of its 737NG aircraft and linefit its upcoming Boeing aircraft deliveries with saf-Tglo SSUL PatternMatch floor-path marking.

“We must also consider all the other needs of our airline customers,” Duncan says. These include “the cost and convenient speed of retrofits, the weight reductions to decrease fuel consumption, and how our lighting integrates with cabin design and corporate brand identity.”

“Illuminating Innovations” was originally published in the 7.3 August/September issue of APEX Experience magazine.