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Omnidirectional heliport LED light improves helicopter safety
Avlite Systems has introduced an innovative LED inset heliport light which is a LED omnidirectional inset lighting fixture light that addresses FATO (final-approach take-off), TLOF (touch-down lift-off), flight path alignment and aiming point lighting applications.
The inset light fully meets the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Annex 14 – Volume II. Heliports 2013 specifications and the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) Engineering Brief 87.
The physical projection of the inset light above ground level does not exceed 10 mm, which, together with a smooth low profile outer surface, prevents any damage to the helicopter or any other vehicle tires. The advanced LED optics ensures optimum light output even in the worst weather conditions. The inset light can be mounted in either 5-inch shallow base can or 8-inch shallow base-can using an adapter ring.
Avlite’s LED Omnidirectional Inset heliport light is available in Solar, universal AC or DC power configurations. The inset light is available in either green or white with optional IR (infrared). The IR component is continuously on or switchable when integrated with an Avlite Lighting Control and Monitoring System (LCMS).
Aviation obstruction lights are lighting devices attached to tall structures: buildings, wind turbines, bridges etc. and used as collision avoidance measures. Such devices make the structure much more visible to passing aircrafts and is usually used at night, although in some countries they are used in the daytime also. Basically obstruction lights typically comes in various intensities (low, medium, high) and either fixed or flashing.
Savvy Passenger Guide to Airport Lights
Colorful lights cover taxiways and runways to help pilots navigate the airport. Red, blue, green, amber, and white lights glow, flash, and race across the ground. It’s time to find out what the colored airport lights mean and how pilots use them!
After an aircraft leaves the gate, the first challenge pilots face is navigating the plane to the runway for takeoff. Both day and night, airport lights make it easy to maneuver around the maze of taxiways.
Blue Lights: Taxiway edge lights are always blue. The blue taxi lights are easy to spot from the terminal and are often the first airport lights seen by passengers. Blue taxiway lights are typically illuminated after dark and during bad weather. For many airports, the blue lights are all that is necessary to mark the taxiways.
Green Lights: Green in-ground centerline lights are often installed at busy airports and airports that experience bad weather to enhance taxi guidance and safety. Unlike the blue lights used to identify the taxiway edges, green centerline lights are very bright. Pilots can see and follow them in the worst weather conditions, day or night.
The tough metal housings for in-ground lights are mounted flush with the surface of the taxiway. Only a small portion protrudes above ground. The lights are installed a few inches to the left or right of the actual painted centerline.
Although not technically airport lights, taxiway signs are well illuminated and easy to see. Yellow and black signs identify taxiways. A black background with yellow characters ( A3 ) identifies what taxiway the aircraft is on. A yellow background with black characters ( A4 ) identifies a crossing taxiway.
Red signs ( 31R ) always indicate a runway. The red color reminds pilots not to proceed without permission from an air traffic controller.
Runway Guard Lights
In the last few years, new types of lights have been added to enhance safety. One of the most prominent are Runway Guard lights. Introduced in 1995, these flashing amber lights warn pilots that they are about to taxi onto a runway.
The basic installation consists of a dual flashing light unit. One unit is mounted on each side of the taxiway where the aircraft must stop. Taxiing past guard lights onto the runway requires a clearance from air traffic control.
In addition to the dual flashing units, wig-wags are often installed in-ground, on the runway hold-short line. This system is really helpful during low visibility conditions.
Red Stop Bar Lights
Red Stop Bar lights (also known as Runway Status Lights) are another newcomer to the taxi light family. In an effort to reduce the risk of deadly runway collisions, Stop Bar lights are being installed at many airports world-wide.
The lights are placed along the hold-short line and are switched on and off automatically. Unlike the yellow guard lights which mean “use caution,” red stop bar lights mean STOP – Don’t even THINK about moving. When the lights are on, there is active traffic on the runway or landing imminently. The lights must be extinguished before an aircraft can proceed.
As of 2016, fifteen US airports have Runway Status lights installed with more on the way. Look for them at busy airports. They’re really bright; you can’t miss them.
Runways designed for low visibility operations (bad weather) have a lot of lights.
Note that not all runways have the same light configuration. The runway at St. Thomas, USVI, has only basic edge lighting because the weather is usually gorgeous. Foggy San Francisco, on the other hand, needs a full lighting system for low visibility weather.
Runway Edge Lights: The lights that mark the left and right edges of the runway are primarily white. The edge lights along the last 2000 feet of runway are yellow to let the pilots know that the end of the runway is approaching. This is useful information for both takeoff and landing.
Runway Threshold and End Lights: The beginning of the usable portion of runway is marked with a row of green threshold lights. Red lights mark the end of the runway.
Runway End Identifier Lights (REILs): To further highlight the beginning of the runway, two very bright strobe lights are installed to the left and right of the runway threshold. REILs are bright and can be seen for miles in good weather. Flashing REILs can even be seen while cruising at 35,000 feet. See if you can spot some on your next flight.
Runway Centerline Lights: Runways used for low visibility operations have white centerline lights installed every 50 ft to help pilots maintain directional control during takeoff and landing. Starting the last 3000 ft of runway, the lights alternate white and red. The last 1,000 feet of runway has solid red centerline lights.
Taxiway Lead-off Lights: To help pilots find the taxiway after landing, alternating green and yellow “lead-off” centerline lights are often installed. The Lead-off lights help flight crews quickly exit the runway.
When driving near an airport, it’s hard to miss dozens of orange light poles near the runways. The forest of lights are part of the Approach Lighting System.
There are several different configurations for approach lights. The type of instrument approach to the runway determines the design of the approach lights. Designs also vary in different parts of the world. The purpose of all the designs is the same: provide pilots with the visual cues necessary to properly align the aircraft for landing during bad weather.
The animated image is an example of ALSF-2 lights. The full name is “Approach Lighting System with Sequenced Flashing Lights – Configuration 2.” See why we use acronyms?
The white lights that appear to shoot toward the runway are called sequenced flashing lights. Pilots call them “the rabbit,” possibly named after the mechanical rabbit used during greyhound dog racing.
Runway rabbits are as bright as REILs and can often be seen during the cruise portion of the flight. They are another good light to watch for on a clear night when the in-flight movies are boring.
Approach lights guide pilots to the Touchdown Zone Lights (TDZL) on the runway.
Touchdown Zone lights consist of 30 rows of white lights on each side of the centerline down the first 3000 feet of runway. That’s 180 in-ground lights!
The purpose of the lights is exactly what you would guess from the name. Pilots want to touchdown within the touchdown zone to ensure adequate runway is available to stop the aircraft. If the aircraft will touchdown beyond this area, it’s time to go around and try again.
How many lights are used for a runway?
A runway that can handle instrument approaches from both directions can have more than 1,150 lights!
That number includes the edge, centerline, touchdown zone, and ALSF-2 lights. A few hundred more lights can be used,depending on the length and configuration of the runway.
Next time you see “Airport Use Tax” on an airline ticket, this is one of the reasons why!
Centerline Light Trivia
Centerline lights are often mounted a few inches left or right of the actual centerline. During takeoff, it’s not uncommon for one of the nose wheels to run over the lights.
If you feel a rhythmic “thump thump thump thump” on the takeoff roll, it’s the nose wheel hitting the centerline lights. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt the tires or lights. The in-ground lights are designed to withstand the weight of wide-body jets landing on them!