By: Ruth Williams, Head of Marketing
As a research-driven organisation, here at STG Aerospace we take the study of light – and the effects that it has on people, physiological and psychological – very seriously. It drives our progress towards a truly human centric, total aircraft cabin lighting system.
What do we mean by the term human centric lighting? The term ‘human centric lighting’ has been coined by researchers to define lighting systems that are deliberately designed to help us feel and perform better. Due in large part to the stringency of the industry’s regulatory requirements, the aviation industry has been relatively slow to adopt some of the latest findings but here at STG Aerospace, thanks to our in-house regulatory accreditations and our collaborations with leading universities in the UK and Europe, we have been a pioneering force in transforming aircraft cabin lighting.
So what have we learnt?
To answer that, we need to go back a very long way. Humans have evolved in harmony with the earth’s natural lighting cycle. Even if we only appreciate it when it gets disrupted, we all have a ‘body clock’ – otherwise known as our circadian rhythm – which we have inherited from our distant ancestors and which tells us, among other things, when to sleep and when to wake up.
In other words, light not only enables us to see, it is vitally important for our biological performance, our health and wellbeing. It affects what we do and how we feel. Our brains use the information that light provides to energise us, to relax us, even to determine our moods which, as we all know, can significantly impact our productivity and the way we interact with other people. It can improve concentration, increase safety and efficiency in workplaces and even change the perception of our environment.
Until relatively recently, however, the sole focus was on high intensity illumination wherever artificial lighting was required. Used originally to extend the productive hours of the day, no real thought was given to the non-visual effects of lighting on humans.
Applying research to the Aviation Industry
Within aviation specifically, the problem has been exacerbated by the sheer complexity of aircraft cabin lighting, the number of individual components involved. 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. It’s a complex cocktail of illumination.
Combining a growing understanding of photobiological responses with the latest lighting technologies has opened up a wealth of possibilities. Whilst our ancestors had nothing but dangerous, largely uncontrollable candles, we now have entirely safe, programmable LEDs solution for aircraft.
There is still progress to be made. Although it is now widely appreciated how our circadian rhythm is regulated, the full effects of lighting on our mood, wellbeing and physiology are still not yet completely understood. This is the driver for STG Aerospace to contine to contribute to the research pool by investigating stress and relaxation at all stages of the flight and assessing how these physiological responses relate to light.
It is only this kind of research that enables us to design and manufacture industry leading LED lighting solutions for our customers, and will enable us to continue enhancing the flying experience for every class of passenger.