LED lighting is typically recommended for its energy efficiency, but in many cases, longevity is what warrants the investment. Just like the U.S. Navy’s ships, airlines need to keep their equipment in operation for as long as possible to be successful.
For every moment a plane is not in the air, an airline is losing money. Planes that use fluorescent tube lights—which need to be replaced every six months—lose precious time in the maintenance hangar that would otherwise be spent in the air.
With 1,224 planes in its fleet, Delta Air Lines is the one of the world’s largest airlines. Since costs quickly pile up with that number of aircraft, the airline often invests in new products that promise a reduction in operational and maintenance costs. Extending the time a plane can remain in service offers an obvious benefit to any airline.
Delta recently announced an LED retrofit for the entire fleet, according to vrworld.com. First in line to receive the new lights are the 772 “main line” planes, with an option to retrofit the additional 452 Delta Connection planes.
Delta chose T800 LED tubes from French supplier, Madelec Aero. Specifically intended for use by the aircraft industry, the plug-in LED lamps are compatible with existing CCFL products and are meant to last for up to five years. Compared to a six-month operating cycle for a standard fluorescent tube, the T800 LED tubes last ten times as long, greatly reducing time spent replacing lamps.
The $8 million project will take three years to complete.
The difference in energy efficiency is not that significant, but it still helps in reducing fuel burn and emissions, all of which could add up to a savings of up to $50k per aircraft per year. The lower weight of LEDs could also help reduce fuel consumption. Most importantly, the planes will no longer need to be taken out of operation for frequent maintenance that can be avoided with the advanced technology that LED brings.