As first class passengers enter the Door 1 area of Emirates’ new Boeing 777-300ER cabins, one of the first features to catch their eye will be the welcome panel featuring a Ghaf Tree motif, an intricate pattern that represents the UAE national tree, the Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria).
The motif is created from a complex textured and layered configuration, which according to the manufacturer, AIM Altitude, presented new challenges. The scale of the backlighting required considerable development with “meticulous selection” and arrangement of hidden lights to achieve an even illumination of the Ghaf tree image, according to the company. LED lights are controlled by the cabin mood-lighting system, to allow the operator to customize lighting-scene color.
Incorporating the Ghaf tree image into a wood-grain finish and allowing light to shine through also created design and manufacturing challenges. AIM Altitude worked with Isovolta Group to develop a solution whereby the artwork was cut into a decorative laminate before it was applied to the panel. Tricky work, especially given the requirements for the panels in terms of weight, manufacturability, structural performance and flammability.
The specification also requested a fasten-seat-belt sign that was concealed when the sign was not activated. A special lens material allowed the passenger information sign to have a discreet ‘dead front’ appearance.
“The initial design intent was created by Boeing and design consultancy, Teague, but it was then AIM Altitude’s role to make this work as a technical design”, said Gavin Balasingam, head of engineering at AIM Altitude in New Zealand. “In daylight, the image is incorporated within the custom wood-grain finish. At night, however, the Ghaf tree is set against a bright starry sky, representing a desert scene. The dual features made the panels particularly difficult to design and engineer.”