Driving down costs is a constant aim for airlines operating in acutely competitive commercial environments. Contributions to this can come from technology in the form of low or zero maintenance equipment, including safety-critical systems.
If mandatory safety systems fail, they can cause significant disruption to an airline with subsequent repair costs, loss of revenue, and possibly loss of customer confidence. To avoid this, maintenance generally has to be rigorous—but there are exceptions and STG Aerospace’s SafTGlo photoluminescent (PL) floorpath marking system is one of them. It is described by the company as being a “fit-for-life” maintenance-free system that makes through-life savings without being detrimental to safety.
The PL pigments in their original powder form are extremely susceptible to service damage from humidity, fluid ingress, and strong UV light. The SafTGlo system encapsulates the PL pigments in a resistant resin matrix. The company uses a “layering” coating process to enhance the properties of brightness and afterglow duration required for a reliable, high performance aviation product in a safety critical environment.
“At a time of increasing financial challenges for all airlines, our system makes a meaningful contribution to reducing costs. It needs no maintenance—ever—because its guidance performance does not degrade during the life of the aircraft in which it is installed. Only abnormal wear and tear or accidental damage can require a section’s replacement, which is a simple matter of placing a new length in position,” said STG CEO Peter Stokes. “Air Canada recorded its best-ever fourth quarter financial results in 2007 thanks to a company-wide cost reduction program. The airline uses SafTGlo for its domestic fleet—with no need for scheduled maintenance.”
However, it is essential to ensure that such a system is positioned and fitted correctly to maximize performance and guidance, added Stokes.
STG also recently announced a new range of “fit-for-life” emergency lighting batteries, again requiring no scheduled maintenance, recharging, or replacement. Called WEPPS (wireless emergency primary power system), it uses low-power radio communication to transmit system status information for the whole emergency lighting system to a diagnostic panel. The task can be carried out by cabin crew.
The company has also just introduced SafTGlo TR, a range of emergency progression and exit signage that can replace tritium signs. It is another fit-for-life solution. Tritium signs may have to be replaced if their luminescence fades. The TR system is to be fitted to new Embraer aircraft and is already installed in some Airbus types.