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Aviation Industry

Runway Lighting: How’s the Maintenance?

Wed Jan 04 2017

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Lights are easily one of the most important fixtures present on a runway. Runway lights guide pilots during the takeoff and landing procedures, and for this reason, airports have to keep their runway lights up to standard. After a few instances where poorly maintained runway lights damaged aircraft, the FAA tightened its requirements for the maintenance of all airport visual aid facilities in Part 139 certificated airports.

The current version of Advisory Circular, (AC) 150/5340-26, Maintenance of Airport Visual Aid Facilities , outlines all changes that the FAA made in its policies. The FAA requires airports to establish a program to keep careful records of the maintenance of runway lights. One specific change in FAA policy was to emphasize the importance of checking the bolts of in-pavement lights. This special consideration comes from an instance where an in-pavement light came loose, and damaged an airplane during take off. Now, the FAA requires airport personnel to check the torque of the bolts regularly, and completely replace all bolts that are not up to standard. Considering the sheer volume of requirements, it is not surprising that the FAA suggests a program “tailored to suit each airport’s particular needs”. Such a program can be created with the help of software.

According to the FAA, a maintenance record of runway lighting should “provide a service history of each piece of equipment, ensure regular maintenance , and provide a data base for statistical analysis of lighting system performance.” The task of keeping track of “each piece of equipment” of a runway light system is challenging, while keeping all the information in an organized and understandable format can be just plain cumbersome. Software can simplify the task by providing one convenient place to input data, as well as the tools necessary to track the continual maintenance of any given piece of equipment. It can also aid in generating reports on the bolt torque records, when required internally or by the FAA. With a simple switch to software, airports can make the maintenance of their runway lighting systems efficient and reliable.

To view Maintenance of Airport Visual Aid Facilities: 150/5340-26C

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