Navy engineer develops dimmable and energy-efficient LED bulb for avionics applications

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 15 March 2013. A U.S. Navy engineer has developed a dimmable light-emitting diode (LED) bulb that has the potential to last 100 times longer than conventional lighting in military avionics, other aerospace applications, and in the automotive industry, Navy officials say.

The military LED was designed and patented over the past three years by David Kayser, an engineer with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.

The variable intensity LED avionics illumination system bulb can last more than 40,000 hours. The current 327 mini incandescent light bulb commonly found in automotive and aircraft applications averages 400, Navy officials say.

The Aircraft Division partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency to create the bulb for backlighting cockpit panels in naval aircraft, but found it has broader applications for other industries, such as auto, mining, and construction.

In addition to cutting maintenance time, the new bulb doesn’t require a dimmer circuit, Navy officials say. “We still have a huge number of legacy [older] aircraft that use the common mini bulb,” Kayser says. “All the backlighting and mastery cautionary panels are all backlit with the 327 lamp.”

By swapping out the current bulb with the LED in the same socket, performance stays the same, but the life of the bulb is extended dramatically, Navy officials say.

Regular LED bulbs are limited when it comes to dimming. Kayser’s LED improves similar bulbs already on the market, and enables pilots to adjust the panel lighting without a dimmer circuit.

Unlike its incandescent sibling, the Navy avionics LED has variable intensity, is significantly brighter, is more energy-efficient, has better longevity and ruggedness, and produces less heat.

The new led works by duplicating the same dimming pattern as the incandescent bulb, and allows more flexibility in the amount of light to the panel controlling the amount of light results in better visibility within the cockpit, Navy officials say.

In designing the new high-tech bulb, the Navy's Kayser tailored the LED lens for night vision, resulting in panel lighting that can be dimmed for either day or night flights.

Other transportation products, such as automotive, commercial aircraft, and heavy construction equipment that use regular LEDs could benefit from this technology, Navy officials say.

For more information contact the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division online at www.navair.navy.mil.

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