When Lufthansa's new long-haul Airbus A350-900 enters service on Friday 10 February, passengers will experience a cabin lighting concept tailored to the human biorhythm for the first time. 24 different lighting scenarios on board ensure that passengers reach their destination well-rested and with less jetlag than is typical for a long-haul flight. Hamburg's aviation industry played a substantial role in the development of this world-first innovation for long-haul flights. The scientific concept for the new lighting technique originates with the "jetlite" startup, anchored in the aviation cluster, and was brought to market-readiness assisted by the six-month Airbus BizLab accelerator program. With the successful market launch, the young company will leave the Airbus startup center in March, moving into offices in the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research.
"We are thrilled that our lighting concept is making a visible contribution to improving the atmosphere on long-haul flights. Credit for this achievement is also due to the very effective infrastructure in Hamburg. The targeted support in the Airbus BizLab and the efficient connections between the various players in the aviation cluster and in ZAL meant that we were able to benefit from a unique network from day one," says Dr Achim Leder, CEO of "jetlite".
"jetlite" came into being as a result of Leder's doctoral thesis on improving physical wellbeing on-board an aircraft by means of the targeted use of light. Warm light at the beginning of a night flight makes a demonstrable contribution to comfort and relaxation. In 2016, "jetlite" was one of six startups chosen to move into the newly opened Airbus BizLab Hamburg. The six-month accelerator program, also offered by the Airbus Group in Toulouse and Bangalore, provides targeted support to external and internal projects, guiding them to market-readiness. At the same time, the young company has from the very beginning been active within the cluster, Hamburg Aviation. This platform for all of the location's aviation industry players, substantially supported by the Department of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, has won several international awards for its successful networking.
Hamburg: a key region for the A350
Hamburg is the world's largest competence center for aircraft cabin technologies. In the long-haul Airbus A350 alone there are several cabin features originating in the metropolitan region, including the "jetlite" lighting technology, the overall cabin concept (Airbus), mountings produced with 3D printing technology (Laserzentrum Nord/SLM Solutions) and the design of the Lufthansa Premium Economy Class (müller/romca). The CFK Valley Network in Stade and Lufthansa Technik at Hamburg Airport mean that regional players also play a definitive role in the development and maintenance of the Airbus A350.
The integration of the innovating lighting technology in the Lufthansa A350-900 took place in the Airbus "Customer Definition Centre" cabin development facility in Hamburg, in collaboration with airline representatives. The renowned lighting planners from Kardorff Ingenieure in Berlin were responsible for the execution of the exact design, whilst "jetlite" provided the detailed concept. Lufthansa plans to follow the installation of the chronobiological lighting design in its new A350 fleet by retrofitting it in its Boeing 747-8 fleet.
Next move for "jetlite": The ZAL
The development of "jetlite" is continuing in Hamburg, too. This spring, together with "Synergeticon", another startup also currently based in the Airbus BizLab developing new manufacturing processes, Dr Achim Leder's company will relocate within the Finkenwerder borough of Hamburg to the ZAL TechCenter, one of the world's largest and most modern aeronautical research facilities, opened in 2016. "We greatly appreciate the efficient solidarity of working with the Airbus BizLab and are convinced that relocating to ZAL is the right move for 'jetlite' and 'Synergeticon'. There are already more than 30 partners from the commercial and academic sectors collaborating on research for the future of aviation at the ZAL TechCenter, including all relevant actors in the aircraft cabin field. And on top of this, the eleven-meter high cabin test rig in ZAL means that 'jetlite' is well-equipped to achieve ongoing enhancement of its product," says Roland Gerhards, CEO of the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research.
The long-term goal of "jetlite" is to extent its concept of reducing jetlag with cabin lighting to cover the entire journey. Lighting effects at the airport before boarding are one possibility, as is a smartphone app that calculates the ideal time to go to bed for a passenger some days ahead of the flight based on destination and personal sleeping rhythms.