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LEDs to the Rescue

September 17, 2004 — After a Royal Danish Air Force doctor seared his hand on a hot halogen light bulb that then burned out, the Danish Air Material Command, the procurement arm of the Danish air force, conducted a search-and-rescue operation for a cooler and more reliable lamp to illuminate the medical instruments' table onboard their medevac helicopters. Expediting their quest was their experience with LED-sourced lighting and that they knew LEDtronics Inc. could supply it.

Previously, LEDtronics had solved a similar lighting problem on the medevac helicopters. A halogen bulb in the swing-arm task light above the examination table made the light fixture too hot for medical personnel to reposition it when necessary. The solution: A cool-operating, direct incandescent replacement LED light bulb. John Henckel, the LEDtronics representative for Northern Europe, recommended a sixty-six 5mm LED PAR20 (part number PAR20-66-2IW-12VDC) bulb because it's bright and easy to install. The bulb's base conforms to the standard European E27 socket thereby simplifying swapping out the halogen bulb. Additionally, the LED PAR20 produces a brilliant white light, making it easy for medical personnel to see, assess and treat a patient's injuries. The Danish Air Material Command evaluated bulbs with white LEDs of different color temperature: (1) incandescent white (4500K) and (2) cool white (8000K). After testing each, they selected the incandescent white due to its superior color rendering ability that expedited differentiating between tissue, blood and other bodily fluids. While all these attributes contributed to the air material command's purchase decision, what clinched it was how the LED PAR20 always remained cool no matter how long it remained on.

Once again, the procurement office looked to LEDtronics for an alternative to the halogen lamp at the instruments table. Henckel had just the thing: the LEDtronics LED Light Strip (p/n STP527-21W). At a half-inch high, this strip fits the existing cylindrical fixture and gives off plenty of light. It features 105 narrow-beamed incandescent-white 5mm domed LEDs mounted on a 27"L x 0.75"W printed circuit board. The strip draws only 0.525A while generating 2000mcd of focused light. The directional light from LED Light Strips brightly illuminates the targeted area for optimal viewing without compromising the night vision of the rest of the helicopter's crew or, most importantly, making the light fixture hot.

In addition to not producing heat, LEDs have other advantages over halogen bulbs that make them well suited for strenuous applications like those onboard helicopters. While halogen bulbs can be broken by vibrations and jolts, LED lamps integrate solid-state circuitry and sturdy epoxy lenses that make them practically unbreakable. The solid-state circuitry enables the LED bulbs to be cycled on and off without worry of sudden burnout. LEDs' robust construction enables them to operate for as long as 100,000 hours. Also, unlike when the filament breaks in a halogen bulb, an LED cluster lamp continues to provide light even if one or more individual emitters fail.

Success in search-and-rescue operations most often depends on time. The faster medical attention is administered, the greater are the odds of survival. When every wasted moment puts lives at risk, medical personnel can ill afford distractions like blistering-hot light fixtures or burned out bulbs. Pleased with the performance of the LED PAR20 bulbs and LED Light Strips, the Danish Air Material Command purchased LED lamps to retrofit all of their new helicopters.


LEDtronics Inc.—located in Torrance, CA—manufactures an array of LED products ranging from discrete surface mount indicators to direct incandescent replacement LED lamps and bulbs for applications such as transportation, panel indication and decorative lighting. LEDs come in visible (400-700 nanometers), infrared (830-940 nanometers) and ultraviolet (370-410 nanometers) wavelengths. For additional information, contact LEDtronics toll free at 1-800-579-4875 or by click here to email us. Visit our website at

John Henckel is the LEDtronics Representative for Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. Headquartered in southern Denmark, Henckel provides application assistance and other value-added customer services. He may be contacted through the following: Phone +45 7022 7333 and by email at

Westland Helicopters Limited (WHL) is the UK arm of the joint venture company AgustaWestland and is the only UK helicopter design authority, manufacturer and systems integrator. Over 1,000 Westland helicopters are in service in 19 countries, and between them they have achieved over six million flying hours. With more than 80 years aviation experience, Westland is renowned throughout the world as a manufacturer of the most technically advanced, versatile and reliable helicopters. Westland may be contacted by phone at +44 1935 475222, by fax at +44 1935 702131 and by email at Visit their website at

Data sheet: LED Light Bulbs, Spotlight, PAR20 Style, 120VAC

Data sheet: LED Light Strip, Sunlight Visible, Narrow Beam

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Additional Photos
 Medevac lamp montage
 Medevac helicopter side view
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