Although not useful for direct lighting applications, photoluminescent lighting is being used for exit path lighting in more and more aircraft these days. Photoluminescent lighting uses the basic theory of phosphorescence — the ability of some substances to glow for a time after the energy source exciting the substance has been removed. In the case of photoluminescent lighting, the energy source is ambient light. UK-based STG Aerospace has developed SafTGlo, an emergency exit lighting system for aircraft, which it patented in 1995. It is a fairly simple track system requiring no electrical power. The system only requires a minimum charge of 45 minutes each day in order to provide emergency lighting for up to 12 hours in total darkness.
The photoluminescent track is virtually maintenance free — requiring only cleaning the surface every now and then with a mild soap solution. As with other plastic materials, contact with solvents can harm the material and should be avoided.
As is the case with fluorescent and photoluminescent lighting, electroluminescent lighting is based on the principle of phosphorescence. An electroluminescent light strip is similar to a capacitor in that a thin dielectric material is placed between two conductive electrode layers. In the case of electroluminescent lighting, a phosphor is placed on the dielectric material. This phosphor illuminates when electricity is applied to the electrode layers. Electroluminescent lighting systems only work with AC. Some sort of inverting system needs to be installed if the system is to be used with DC power supplies.
Luminescent Systems Inc. (LSI), a Lebanon, New Hampshire company, is a leading manufacturer of electroluminescent lighting. They offer both floor-mounted and seat-mounted emergency egress lighting. The system is powered by a rechargeable battery that can operate independently of the main power source in the event of power failure.
An advantage of electroluminescent lighting is the fact that it provides an even glow throughout the lighting surface. This light produces little heat and is energy efficient.
The electroluminescent lighting system is durable, with no major maintenance necessary. The light panels are resilient, and have an extremely long life. In fact, LSI says that the lights will last longer than the interior will, with the only concern being damage due to negligence by passengers or maintenance personnel.
So many choices!
These are only a few of the lighting systems available to light up an aircraft interior. There are many more lighting options available today than there were just a few short years ago. If you are wishing to upgrade the lights in your aircraft, the choices are numerous. Do your homework — talk to the different manufacturers out there and see what product best fits your needs. A lighting option that suits one particular application is not necessarily the best option for all lighting concerns. With the abundance of choices available and the rapid pace that new products are being introduced, you should be able to find a product that can give your aircraft a bright future.
AC 25-10 Guidance for Installation of Miscellaneous Nonrequired Electrical Equipment
AC 25.812-1A Floor Proximity Emergency Escape Path Marking
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