Prescott gets LED lighting to guard against collisions

May 11, 2006
Prescott Airport in Arizona has a new LED-based taxiway light system that should improve passenger safety.
In an effort to improve runway safety and overall pilot awareness, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has installed a new LED taxiway light system at Prescott Municipal Airport in Prescott, Arizona.

“Reducing the risk of runway incursions is one of the FAA’s top priorities,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “This new technology will help improve passenger safety by preventing collisions between aircraft while they are on the ground.”

This new system -- currently in the prototype stage -- is a redesigned FAA lighting system that uses LED technology to notify pilots that they are approaching a runway hold line.

The taxiway edge lights emit a clear blue light that provides pilots with a visual cue marking the taxiway edge, while the runway guard lights notify pilots that they are approaching a runway hold line. Both are critical visual aids to improve a pilot’s ability to identify active runways.

The system, which could be installed at large, medium and small airports, has potential benefits for both the airports and passenger safety. In addition to helping pilots be more aware of their surroundings, it provides improved worker safety during system maintenance by significantly reducing circuit voltages. It also reduces operations and maintenance costs, and uses less electricity.

Because the system is more energy-efficient, long-term savings can be significant, even if the initial installation of LEDs is more expensive. FAA engineers estimate that the LED system could reduce energy use by as much as 50 to 80 percent each year. Prescott taxpayers are expected to save between 20 to 80 percent of light system maintenance costs, which currently total approximately $5,700 per year.

The FAA paid the $1 million cost of designing, producing and installing the system at Prescott. Future LED systems will be eligible for financial assistance through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program once they are approved as meeting FAA standards.