Improving flight safety

Emergency floor lighting in aircraft

Emergency floor lighting is an integral part of the interior of a commercial airliner. In emergencies, these lighting systems guide passengers and crew to the emergency exits, even if the rest of the cabin lighting has failed. But if the on-board electronics experience a complete failure, everyone is left in the dark. In response to this, Lufthansa Technik has developed the Guideline® emergency floor lighting system, which uses a photoluminescent material that absorbs light from its surroundings and re-emits it in the dark. Unlike electronic systems that use LEDs, the Guideline® emergency floor lighting system requires no external power source and is therefore entirely maintenance-free. The Steinbeis Transfer Center for Plastics and Recycling Technology has now adapted this system for use in specialized floor coverings.

Airplane galleys are moist environments, so they use non-textile flooring (NFT) instead of carpeting. This flooring is just 2 mm thick – which doesn’t leave much space for floor lighting. The challenge: to develop floor lighting no more than 2 mm thick that is sufficiently bright and able to withstand high mechanical loads.

The partners in this project were Lufthansa Technik, the Institute for Polymer Technology and the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Plastics and Recycling Technology at Wismar University of Applied Sciences. Together, they developed the Galley-Light, which is now a commercially available product. The main challenge in developing Galley-Light was designing a processoptimized plastic casing for the photo- luminescent layer that would not corrode due to external mechanical stress and was able to withstand day-to-day clean- ing using conventional detergents without suffering long-term damage. The project team mastered this design challenge by analyzing these external influences using the finite element method, by testing and evaluating components, and by taking advantage of advanced plastic produc- tion techniques. The result: ultra-flat emergency floor lighting that can be integrated into non-textile flooring in the galley and meets all safety requirements. Described as the “world’s thinnest emergency floor lighting,” Galley-Light – a successful joint development by the three project partners – won the 2011 Crystal Cabin Award in the category of Material and Components at the 2011 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.

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