Airport Lights

Historically, many airports have regarded lighting as nothing more than a legacy burden, an annual drain on costs that was too expensive and disruptive to tackle.

But a new mindset is emerging. Airport lighting are embracing the idea of lighting as a service, whereby future lighting performance is ensured by the supplier, and no capital outlay is required. 

From our discussions with airport executives and our experience in the field, we know that lighting maintenance is a major bug-bear for the sector. 

However, a lighting as a service model eliminates such frustrations because the model is not about simply selling luminaires but about guaranteeing future lighting performance. 

It enables airports to benefit from current – and future LED technology – without the hassle of owning and operating the lighting solution themselves. The model is paid for by savings generated from day one of installation.

The future-proofing advantages of lighting as a service are critical. Without such a model in place, every new technological advancement would require significant capital expenditure. 

Lighting as a service enables buyers to stay a step ahead. Additionally, airport decision-makers will surely welcome the prospect of dealing with just one supplier contact, safe in the knowledge that the system is being monitored and maintained in the background.

Doing nothing is expensive. Every day an obsolete lighting system is operating it causes unnecessary extra costs – through excessive electricity consumption, high failure rates and high maintenance charges.

The smart airport

Certainly, the cost-savings and energy efficiencies delivered by today’s LED lighting systems are compelling. 

With legally binding energy efficiency targets becoming increasingly onerous for businesses, and recent studies showing a direct link between improved wellbeing and the quality of light within the workspace, it is little wonder that the lighting issue is high on the business agenda. 

But undertaking to buy lighting as a service rather than a commodity moves the conversation beyond simple savings.

Exciting developments are emerging whereby lighting systems are the vehicle through which internet connectivity is delivered, or security solutions are implemented or data is gathered – intelligent systems that can be seamlessly integrated as needs dictate.

For airports, such data can be invaluable. For example, the lighting infrastructure can be used to gather data on customer behaviour and preferences, gaining intelligence on footfall and linger times. 

Sensors can trigger different types of lighting for different areas or to reflect different outside weather conditions or the time of day.

Time to switch?

Changing any purchasing and business model will always require careful assessment, and moving to lighting as a service will be a step change for many. However, taking the decision now can lead to immediate savings and can result in a model that normally pays for itself from day one. 

Everything associated with lighting – from design via installation and commissioning through to regular maintenance – will be handled by the provider, enabling airport leaders to focus staff on core tasks. 

Once installed, transparent remote monitoring helps to achieve the agreed aims regarding illuminance and energy efficiency and – with expert guidance – to quickly identify opportunities to adapt and enhance usage patterns.

It is the combination of smart financing and smart technology that is accelerating investment in the smart airport. 

Lighting as a service arrangements allow future cost savings to be harnessed to pay for today’s digital technology upgrade. Such arrangements are gaining attention precisely because they enable investment without capital commitment, moving the business model from buying technology, to paying for access to that technology.

As technological advances continue apace, more and more businesses and professionals will recognise the advantages of the ‘as a service’ approach to lighting. 

A tailored, optimised airport lighting system can have a significant impact – not only on an organisation’s bottom line but also on employee performance and business intelligence.

Airport beacons help a pilot identify an airport at night. The beacons are operated from dusk till dawn. The beacon has a vertical light distribution to make it most effective from 1–10° above the horizon, although it can be seen well above or below this spread. The combination of light colors from an airport beacon indicates the type of airport. (Figure 1) Some of the most common beacons are:

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.

Approach light systems are intended to provide a means to transition from instrument flight to visual flight for landing. The system configuration depends on whether the runway is a precision or nonprecision instrument runway. Some systems include sequenced flashing lights, which appear to the pilot as a ball of light traveling toward the runway at high speed. Approach lights can also aid pilots operating under VFR at night.

Visual glidescope indicators provide the pilot with glidepath information that can be used for day or night approaches. By maintaining the proper glidepath as provided by the system, a pilot should have adequate obstacle clearance and should touch down within a specified portion of the runway.

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