Airport Runway Status Lights

We have often seen runway status lights at airports from the window of our airplane or the terminal. Here are the specifications on runway entrance lights (REL), methodology and configurations used, as detailed in the FAA Engineering Brief #64D.

The following standards apply for the Runway Entrance Light fixtures (Type L-852S)

  • Basic Configuration (straight taxiway perpendicular to the runway)
  • Angled Configuration (straight taxiway not perpendicular to the runway)
  • Curved Configuration (curved taxiway at a varying angle to the runway)

RELs are installed parallel to the taxiway centerline per Figure 1. RELs are spaced laterally 2 feet (ft.) from the taxiway centerline, on the opposite side of taxiway centerline lights (if installed). The first light in the pattern is installed 2 ft. prior to the runway holding position marking. Longitudinal spacing must conform to the standards. The penultimate light is installed 2 ft. prior to the runway edge stripe, and the last light is installed 2 ft. to the side of the runway centerline lights toward the intersecting taxiway.

4.2.1. Basic (90-degree) Configuration.
This is the most common and simplest form of intersection. Because the taxiway centerline is perpendicular to the runway centerline, the longitudinal line of RELs is also perpendicular to the runway, and all the lights are aimed along the taxiway path, that is perpendicular to the runway centerline.


4.2.2. Angled Configuration.
This configuration is used where the intersecting taxiway is not perpendicular to the runway centerline but not less than 60 degrees from the runway centerline. The location and spacing of the REL lights along the taxiway centerline is identical to the one used for perpendicular intersections. For highly angled taxiways (e.g. less than 60 degrees from the runway centerline heading), the fixtures used and aiming will be determined on a case-by-case basis.


4.2.3. Curved Configuration.
When the taxiway centerline marking between the holding position marking and the runway is curved, the maximum REL longitudinal spacing must be based on standards. The runway centerline REL will be located on the extended line of the last two longitudinal lights near the runway edge. Where a tangent to the curve of the taxiway centerline intersects the runway centerline at not less than 60 degrees, aiming must comply with standards for taxiway centerline lights. When the angle is less than 60 degrees, aiming must be determined on a case-by-case basis.


TSA adopts Queue Management System

SITA and Bluelon have recently supplied a hi-tech passenger system to the US.

In a move to improve the passenger experience and allow TSA Officers to focus on security-related tasks at airports, the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, will begin using the queue management system provided by SITA and its technology partner Bluelon. This system automatically measures and displays passenger waiting time.

This solution uses Bluetooth technology to measure the passenger traffic patterns at TSA checkpoint lines. SITA’s anonymous monitoring technology means that only traffic patterns and movements are analysed and individuals are not identified. This approach respects privacy issues while delivering highly relevant and usable information to both passengers and the TSA. Communication with passengers will be improved as delay times will be displayed in real time on screens at each checkpoint.

Paul Houghton, SITA’s President, Americas, speaking at the company’s offices in Atlanta, said: “TSA is continuing to improve the experience for passengers at security checkpoints in US airports. SITA’s air transport industry experience allows us to help the TSA work more effectively in this environment. In North America, close to 50 airports serving more than 845m passengers use SITA’s technology to run efficient operations and we know that passengers don’t want to wait in line; our technology measures and displays just how long they are waiting.”

Top 10 Airports in Europe

Here are the top 10 airports in Europe based on current ratings, as reported by a fellow professional blogger.

  1. London Heathrow Airport
  2. Frankfurt Airport
  3. Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport
  4. Amsterdam Airport
  5. Gatwick Airport
  6. Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport
  7. Madrid Barajas Airport
  8. Paris Orly Airport
  9. Munich Airport
  10. Zurich Airport

I am not too surprised by the rankings, but I did expect Munich airport and Paris Orly to feature a bit higher up in the rankings. Conversely, I am not sure about the position of Paris CDG.

I’ve been to the Helsinki Vantaa airport also, and according to me it deserves special mention. It is continuing to be the focal point of airport development in Europe, a project many can learn from.

Wasted potential

If you approached any air transportation expert and asked about the regional market forecast for the next decade, you would most definitely get an answer that included India and China leading the “rate of growth” category. Although the USA has the most domestic travellers per year, given the population of India and China, they would have surpassed that number had it been for efficient infrastructure and better regulatory efforts. The figure below (courtesy Prof John Hansman at MIT), one of my favourites, gives a good example of an air transportation model and its interactions with the economy.

I really can’t comment on what’s happening in China, but India’s system is miles away from exemplary. Firstly, it is unacceptable that the economic flow is disrupted by an external beneficiary agent. Not only does that agent not belong to the industry, but there also is no paper trail. Secondly, the figure above involves a feedback loop, which in the case of today’s market doesn’t exist in India. Some might argue that things are changing, but I don’t believe the rate of growth is justified. Thirdly, the infrastructure and regulatory framework is virtually zero, unless intervened by a private agency looking for a profit. That is exactly what is happening with the airport development in India today. It’s being privatized. My question is: Do we even need any government overlooking the industry when all it is going to do is either withdraw support of the national carrier in its darkest times and ensure smooth transition into privatization?

It was the IATA director general who recently visited India and reminded them of the potential boom that is possible by saying, “If Indians flew as much as Americans, it would be a 4 billion dollar market“.

Another figure (courtesy Prof John Hansman of MIT) shows that this potential has been visible since 2005, yet almost 6 years later, we are still discussing about prospective targets while the wasted opportunities prove the existence of the Doppler Effect.

Again, arguments like the successful construction of new terminals at hub airports in India can be made, coupled with the progress made in increasing traffic. According to me, way below par. A simple illustration is the fact that projections of traffic passing through Mumbai airport a few years ago have not been fulfilled. The reasons lie in a very bureaucratic, politically (read money-making) driven process to approve a new airport at the Navi Mumbai site. Meanwhile, Delhi has overtaken Mumbai in traffic by constructing a new terminal. Airlines want to target profits the minute they are in sight, and rightly so, as there is a thin line between profit and loss. Hence, they will not wait for Mumbai to realize its potential, rather just move on to the next best option.

Whether it is the work culture, the organizational hierarchy or the industrial illiteracy that is causing this reversal of fortune is yet to be determined and fixed. Promises are still being made as we discuss this, but the infrastructure is not even in place to try to keep them. For an industry that can create jobs, provide a solid financial influx, the transportation ministry of India needs to reevaluate their position on the situation and understand its gravity. That would be job one.