The Navy recently developed a dimmable light-emitting diode bulb that has the potential to improve products in the aircraft and automotive industries.
Designed and patented by Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineer David Kayser over the past three years, the Variable Intensity LED 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.
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.
“We still have a huge number of legacy [older] aircraft that use the common mini bulb,” Kayser said. “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.
Regular LED bulbs are limited when it comes to dimming. Kayser’s LED improves similar bulbs already on the market, allowing pilots to adjust the panel lighting without a dimmer circuit. The new LED works by duplicating the same dimming pattern as the incandescent, allowing more flexibility in the amount of light to the panel Controlling the amount of light results in better visibility within the cockpit.
The LED lens was tailored 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.
Unlike its incandescent sibling, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineer David Kayser’s LED bulbs:
- Have variable intensity
- Are significantly brighter
- Are more energy-efficient
- Have better longevity and ruggedness
- Produce less heat