Runway lighting systems

Date: 12.12.2015 Category: Airport Security

Runway lighting systems

The international civil aviation organization (ICAO) describes a runway as a - "defined rectangular area on land aerodrome prepared for take-off and landing” This could be used for any purpose you. You could be landing a F117A over in America or landing The Apache attack helicopter over in the UK just hope that it is not raining stealth bombers are easier to see.

One of the first airports for military use in the UK was RAF Upper Helford over in America Albert Kahn built army airfield and naval bases during the First World War. The very first runway to have lighting systems was Cleveland Municipal Airport over in America.

Basic elements for pilots to land

Approach or Non-Precision

Approach light system

The threshold, or its markings, lights or identification lights.

The visual glide slope indicator(s).

The touchdown zone, zone markings or zone lights.

The runway edge lights.

One of the above must be available for a pilot to land this is the same for civilian airports and the military. Most airports and aerodromes have beacons at night they help to identify an airport or aerodrome at night.

Flashing white and green for civilian land airports;

Flashing white and yellow for a water airport;

Flashing white, yellow, and green for a heliport; and

Two quick white flashes alternating with a green flash identifying a military airport.

Military are quite different being that there are two white flashes and it also means no civilian Aircraft unless in distress then they may make a forced landing on any MOD airfield at any time. Military bases normally have similar lighting systems the only time it differs is when military operations are carried out

Military runways are usually wider and need to be able to take more weight than a normal runway. The distances for these runways are usually between 8,000 to 13,000 feet in America.

You have the approach lighting systems or abbreviated (ALS) these can be very complex they differ depending on whether the runway is precision or non-precision runway

Military aviation lighting systems used Optical landing system (OLS) Three sets of light are used and sometimes more mostly used on aircraft carriers.

Datum lights — a horizontal row of green lamps.

Ball — indicates the relative position of the aircraft.

Wave-off lights — red flashing lamps which, when lit, indicate that the pilot must add full power and go around.

You need these light does not matter what lighting system is used with OLS.

For land based Optical Landing Systems, the lights are typically mounted on a mobile unit

An example of lights used at Cairns Army Airfield used for the military purposes.

An approach lighting system, or ALS, is a lighting system installed on the approach end of an airport runway and consisting of a series of light bars, strobe lights, or a combination of the two that extends outward from the runway end

Runway Alignment Indicator Lights (RAIL) The RAIL consists of five single SFL on the runway centerline in the approach area of the centerline barrette lights. These lights are capacitor-discharge, one directional, white, elevated light which are flashed in sequence from the approach end towards the runway thresholds.

More lights will be used I would expect hanger lights and flood lights you also have the beacon two white flashes and green.