Report: Runway Lights Should Be Deployed
The FAA should move from the testing phase and start to deploy Runway Status Light systems at airports across the country, according to a new report (PDF) from the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General. The report concludes that the lighting systems -- which provide red and green lights at runway intersections to guide pilots -- have been tested and proved useful for reducing runway incursions. The test systems gained widespread support from user groups, including pilots, pilot union officials, and managers and staff at Air Traffic Control. "All agreed that the Runway Status Light system works as intended and has no known negative impact on capacity, communication, or safety," according to the report. NTSB officials said the system is a promising technology for addressing its longstanding recommendation to provide direct warnings to pilots of potential runway conflicts. So what's the hold-up? Several challenges need to be addressed, the OIG says, before the system can be effectively deployed.
The challenges identified in the report include modifying the prototype system, developed at Dallas-Fort Worth, so it will interface correctly with different radar systems at other airports; coordinating with airports that are planning to deploy the lights as they install or upgrade new runways (as opposed to retrofitting to existing runways); equipping ground vehicles with transponders; and mitigating delays in implementing ASDE-X, which contributes necessary data to the lighting system.