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Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:06 pm


Having witnessed the aftermath of several seaplane accidents where the airplane came to rest upside down, I was determined to design something that would assist the occupants in their escape.

Assuming the occupants are conscious, there are various factors that affect their ability to escape within that first “Golden Minute”. Disorientation is to be expected after a rapid deceleration and inversion. Darkness will also be a factor causing confusion – even in daylight the light levels a fathom down are much lower. The temperature of the incoming water will provide a further shock to the system, adding to the disorientation.

The Seaplane Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting (SUCEL) reduces the effects of these factors by illuminating the cabin interior automatically and highlighting the Exits after an upset. Thus, not only can the occupants re-orientate themselves in a bright environment, they can also clearly see the position of the exits.

-control box-.jpg

The system consists of a watertight Control Box that is fixed vertically on a cabin sidewall or door interior furnishing. Measuring 8” high x 5” wide x 2” deep, it detects cabin angle and as soon as the cabin tilts more than 70 degrees away from the vertical, three banks of bright LEDs are activated and remain on for more than 15 minutes. Two LED banks are white but the third is amber and is designed to be fitted close to the door operating handle, to help find the primary means of exit. Being self-contained and waterproof, the lighting will remain on underwater to provide useful illumination for outside rescuers to reach the cabin.

Lights Activated/ Lit
lit door.jpg

Lights Off/ Dark
unlit door.jpg

The complete unit weighs less than 2.2 lbs. (1.0 kg.) and is supplied with all necessary wiring and mounting hardware.

As an added benefit the system can be switched on manually to provide Emergency Lighting in the event of aircraft electrical system failure. The battery can be left on standby for several weeks without the need for recharging. Just in case the Pre-flight Check indicates low battery power, a standby battery is included in the package, which allows replacement in two minutes.

The system is independent of aircraft electrics and is easily fitted. As it is not Certificated, it can also be removed before a workshop visit or transferred to another aircraft if required. Fitting can be achieved by the average handyman with a drill and soldering iron, or can be fitted by an Approved Mechanic in less than 5 hours. A comprehensive set of instructions is provided, supported by colour photos showing each step of the process.

Complete Kit.jpg

Each system is designed to cover one exit door, and there is a 10% discount on the second unit you purchase. The unit (apart from the Li-Ion batteries) is covered by a 12-month warranty.

For the cost of a few months of airplane insurance payments, you can have some personal insurance hardware that might just save your life.

For full details, go to this link: and click on the “SUCEL” tab.

John Russell (White Feather)

JR teepic.jpg

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:53 pm

Sounds like a great idea, but I have done some scuba diving and the "way out " during daylite would be the illumination of the window in the door or the full lexan seaplane door shining the way. I would think that any competing light would complicat a life and death decision.


Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:53 am


I've added/ placed the pictures. Nice job on presenting this system.

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:10 am

Thanks, I'll watch the debate continue!


Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:40 am

No debate, looks like it should help someone find their way out. I like thing simple, non electric, no insurance, fly with earplugs 90% of the time with the doors open in flight. Good luck with your venture.


Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:01 pm

My mental scenario thus far is one of feeling my way out, with no visual reference anticipated at all.

His automatically activated underwater lighting system is a great idea though, and I might buy one or two.

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:29 pm

Looks like it would be a great add on and at only 1 Kilo, I would not even have to lose any more weight then I already need to lose!

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:02 am

Well, this in combination with some "spareair" = chances are much better.... (I am not related to product)

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:09 am

I have been carrying a Spare Air for years diving as it will provide about 9 breaths from 130 feet, usually enough to get a diver to the surface at an ascent rate that is slow enough for outgassing of nitrogen. Close to the surface with much less exterior pressure, it should provide a reasonably steady amount of air for many more breaths. Never through about wearing it in the plane. Even have a chest strap for it. Not sure what they cost any more, but I bough the larger version some years ago for $299.00. Any dive shop (or from your town tank) can fill it from time to time. I have a web break away holster for it that would allow holding it on an open panel area or on a side door. Also have a waterproof dive light that can be set to go on automatically when it hits water. Never thought of using that either, but might be a good idea.

Thanks for bringing this up.

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:21 pm

Bob , I've flown a couple of privately owned caravans that actually had a spare air located at every seat. Our company looked at mounting two in the cockpit for the crew. The FAA said no way not without factory approved mounts. So no spare air, stupid! I know a few guys else where that keep them in flight bag in cockpit. They make a smaller version that's black and made for helicopters and aircraft . Dive shop in Wallingford ct. Sells the yellow for 250. I believe

Re: Underwater Cabin Exit Lighting

Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:30 pm

I would agree with you regarding the FAA. I would think that in your flight bag or loose in the plane, it is just another piece of baggage.

Like other Compressed Air systems they are supposed to be Pressure Check every 5 years. Last time I had mine done it was fine, but it runs about $80.00 - $100.00 depending on who does it. Mine is the longer one. Mine is plain Aluminum as I got it before they started with the Bright Yellow.

I have a tri-mix bailout bottle that could work also, but it is a little on the big side.

I also never thought of using my BC as a seaplane vest. The ones I use are less bulky though.

Pilots Best Friend is Ready
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