Boeing’s Redesigned Interior Utilizes Variable Lighting To Make The Skies More Friendly

Boeing Interior Before Redesign

Above: Boeing interior before re-design

Air travelers might have noticed something different about a plane ride they recently took. The venerable 737, workhorse of many airlines, has been redesigned from nose to tail, including a fresh look inside the cabin. Gone are the boxy overheads and bright yellow incandescent lights. Boeing has replaced these when they designed the new Sky Interior which holds more carry-on bags while increasing headroom. In fact, a person over six feet tall can comfortably stand up in the aisle seats. Redesigned windows that allow more light and improve visibility while keeping the same pane size contribute to the greater sense of openness.

Boeing Sky Interior Center Aisle View of Lighting Design

Above: Boeing Sky interior with new and improved lighting design

The most exciting and innovative aspect of the Sky Interior is the new lighting system. Recessed alcoves are populated with super-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that normally project a sky-blue hue. Human eyes primarily rely on blue light, known as “cool colors”, in instances where illumination is limited. The blue light sensitive rods of the retina are 100x more receptive to light than the red sensing cones – that’s why the world takes on a more bluish hue after the sun goes down. Cool color LEDs allow for more lighting in the cabin while keeping the light less intrusive.

Boeing Sky Interior Side View Lighting Design

Above: View of new Boeing Sky interior with blue LED lighting

The psychology of color, going back over 92,000 years, has shown that blue also has a calming effect on individuals and will even lower heart rates and body temperatures. Glasgow recently installed blue street lights in certain neighborhoods and experienced decreased reports in crime. This promises to make flying a less unpleasant experience when the passenger in front of you decides to fully recline their seat on a trans-Pacific route.

Above: Airplane interior with variable color scenes

Besides lasting ten times longer than old incandescent bulbs, allowing more illumination with less brightness, and helping soothe passengers stuck on a runway for several hours, these new lights are also programmable with variable colors. Designers envision changing colors to better match that of the outside. As dusk approaches, for instance, the lights could begin showing a bit of a reddish hue, simulating the setting sun, then transition into a more intense blue, adding more indigo as night falls. Conversely, as the sun begins to rise that deep indigo could become more golden to match the morning rays peeking over the horizon eventually becoming the normal blue as the day unfolds. On the opposite spectrum (literally), airlines could flood the cabin with reddish light as the plane reaches the jetway to infuse energy into lethargic passengers that have spent several hours sitting in the same position. As well, during dining services a bit of warmer red light would enhance the appeal of airline food (bad news for stand-up comics)!

These cabin modifications take their cues from the work Boeing has been doing on their upcoming 787 Dreamliner which is expected to begin ferrying passengers in the third quarter of 2011. Numerous airlines and suppliers such as flydubai, United Continental, Lion Air, Virgin, GOL, and Air China have taken deliveries for this transcontinental version of the 737. With GPI’s client list spanning the globe, frequent flyer miles really rack up and we definitely appreciate Boeing for embracing lighting technology to make air travel less stressful and more enjoyable.

Image credits: Wired, Boeing Blogs, Malaysian Wings