Relaxation and well-being on board

Light has a strong effect on the human body and – if used in a smart way – can enhance our well-being, even on board an aircraft. That is why we have been experiencing a major trend towards ambient lighting over the past years. But functional light also plays an important role. Dr. Achim Leder, founder and managing director of jetlite GmbH from Hamburg, Germany was the first to do scientific research on what constitutes “proper” light on board long-haul flights. With their Human Centric Lighting approach, jetlite wants to make flying more pleasant. He explains how this works and what we as air travelers can look forward to in the future.

jetlite provides the world’s first holistic and scientifically proven solution for reducing jet lag on long-haul flights. Why is this a blessing for the passenger?

With our solution on board, flying becomes more relaxed, especially on night flights. Light supports the passengers to help them first doze off to sleep and then wake up refreshed at the end of the flight. The body needs the hormone melatonin to sleep. In the past, too much blue light was used on board, which suppressed the production of melatonin in the body. By avoiding blue light in the evening hours, our body can produce melatonin more easily and we can sleep better. In the wake-up phase, however, blue light helps us. We take advantage of this phenomenon: By optimizing the use of light on board, we influence the time of maximum melatonin release in the body and begin to adjust the human internal clock to the time zone of the destination. This means that you arrive at your destination more relaxed and alert. Therefore, we help to reduce stress and jet lag and to maximize recovery and well-being.

Software controls the lighting scenario on long-haul flights. How does it work?

If you sum up jetlite in three words, it’s light, software and research. We have done a lot of research on the subject of light, and of course we continue to do so. We have been incorporating the results into our software, which controls the cabin lighting depending on various flight parameters. These are for example flight direction, flight duration, crossed time zones and the different times at the starting point and destination. The lighting scenarios are always based on the destination, regardless of where the passenger boarded the plane.

Has AI finally arrived in the airplane cabin and how could AI offer further advantages?

Yes, it has. With the help of AI, our software could be much more fine-tuned and individualized. For example, every passenger in Business Class could create their own atmosphere in their seat with the help of seat lighting. The lighting scenarios in the seat could then be adjusted to the passengers’ own internal clock. We are already working on this project with companies from the aviation industry and will present individual results at the Aircraft Interior Expo in Hamburg. In the economy sector, smart glasses tailored to each individual passenger will be used. We are confident that we will be able to launch jetlite glasses with our partner before the end of 2020.

Since 2017, your lighting concept has been flying successfully in Lufthansa’s A350. What feedback has impressed you most so far?

Lufthansa conducted a major survey with the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich: 88% of passengers who normally cannot sleep on long-haul flights stated that they were able to sleep after their flight on board Lufthansa’s A350. This result is extremely high and we were very pleased with it. Sleep also increased by an average of 10% for all passengers – another scientifically impressive result.

In the future you would like to apply your knowledge to nutrition consulting for airlines. How can we imagine that?

Melatonin production is not only triggered by light – it can also be influenced by nutrition: pistachios, for example, support melatonin production, while oats inhibit it. Our aim is to combine catering on board with lighting scenarios, for example, serving light, sleep-promoting food in the evening and making breakfast more substantial.

If you had one wish: what should change immediately in the aircraft cabin in 2020?

Beds with a proper mattress so that you can lie down comfortably: A bed with a bedspread would be my dream!

Dr. Achim Leder has been in the aviation industry for more than 15 years working for EADS (Airbus), EUROJET and Dortmund Airport. He founded jetlite in 2017 after completing his doctoral studies.

March 6, 2020


Brigitte Sterf
Lighting & Imaging
SCHOTT North America, Inc.