A startup from Hamburg promises flights without jetlag


Jetlag isn’t just a nuisance on holidays. Especially on business trips the time change can be difficult. But when it comes to a startup based in Hamburg, fatigue and headaches after long flights will soon be a thing of the past. The team led by Achim Leder makes a special lighting program for aircraft cabins, which regulates the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Leder is an economics graduate and 37 years old. After studying in Castrop-Rauxel he worked for five years as a lobbyist and sales manager in the aerospace industry. Through the topic of his doctoral thesis, he came to the idea of Jetlite.

For a study he had 32 subjects stay in a test aircraft for three runs of ten hours. While the control group was exposed to standard lighting, the test group received the developed lighting program with a high proportion of blue in the morning and a larger proportion of red in the evening. While the control group had to contend with the typical jet lag symptoms, people in the test group could sleep faster and deeper and were more alert on arrival. Along with other students, Leder developed an algorithm that calculates the optimum lighting program for different routes.

Today – four years later – the market-ready version of the program is almost out. Leder promises that it can reduce the feeling of jetlag considerably. “At a time difference of six hours, like Hamburg-New York, the body feels only three hours,” says the founder.

Its illumination can be implemented in any modern aircraft that has LED lights on board, says Leder. Older models could soon be upgraded, because after ten years all aircrafts get what is known as a retro-fit, where even the lighting system is replaced. Several airlines have already expressed an interest in Jetlite’s product. Leder works with Airbus already. The startup is part of Airbus Accelerators BizLab. In the fall, there will be the first live test.

Even the founder is not clear on how exactly he wants to monetize his startup. Possibilities include a subscription model or a flat fee, says Leder. But that’s in the future: “Although I receive a professor salary , we all live on a student level. I cross-finance the rest of my four-person team,” says the founder.

Image: Jetlite