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Swaffham aerospace firm flying high

PUBLISHED: 06:42 19 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:06 08 July 2010

A SWAFFHAM aerospace company is flying high with its latest invention which could save the world's airline industry $1bn a year.

The staggering figure is the proud boast of Peter Stokes, chief executive of STG Aerospace, whose business is not only confounding the credit crunch but is quickly expanding its product range and profits.

A SWAFFHAM aerospace company is flying high with its latest invention which could save the world's airline industry $1bn a year.

The staggering figure is the proud boast of Peter Stokes, chief executive of STG Aerospace, whose business is not only confounding the credit crunch but is quickly expanding its product range and profits.

The company's first product SafTGlo, luminescent floor strips which guide passengers to safety in the event of an aircraft emergency, has proved a

huge hit.

And with more than 5,000 planes, nearly one-third of the world's operating aircraft, now fitted with the system, STG has just published its best ever results.

Figures to December show a ninth successive year of growth, with profits exceeding £4m, up 11pc on last year.

And now the company is set to make its second major impact on the airline industry.

After five years and £1.2m spent on development, STG is rolling out its new emergency aircraft lighting system called Wireless Emergency Primary Power System (WEPPS).

The system has already won the Crystal Cabin Award, which recognises excellence in aircraft interior innovation, and has been welcomed by the industry as a major money saving breakthrough.

Mr Stokes said: “If our new system were fitted to every commercial aircraft in the world it would save the industry $1bn a year. We are now on a two-year rollout programme.”

The company already has approval to install the system on two types of Boeing 737, with a third due soon.

“It has been fitted in Canada, America and India,” said Mr Stokes. “I estimate we already have somewhere in the region of £10m potential orders.”

Current emergency aircraft lighting operates off traditional Ni-Cad batteries. The batteries regularly need recharging from the aircraft's main power supply and must be replaced about every four years.

Each system must also be checked before a plane takes off each day and to do this the system must be fully switched on and checked manually. If a serious fault it found it must be pinpointed and rectified, something which can often involved hours of engineers time stripping down lighting units.

WEPPS uses a special lithium sulphur dioxide battery. The battery is able to lie dormant almost indefinitely without losing its charge, and because of this it does not need to be connected to the plane's main power supply and should never need to be replaced as long as the plane is in service.

Each WEPPS battery also has a

small low frequency radio transmitter which feeds a signal to a control

panel.

At the touch of the button, an engineer can tell if all the batteries and lighting is operating correctly, and if there is a problem the system will indicate exactly where it is allowing for quick repair.

The features mean WEPPs offers airlines substantial savings through not having to replace batteries, in man hours and plane downtime.

The company is now developing other aircraft products using the low-level wireless radio network it developed for the batteries.

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