The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today awarded a contract to Sensis Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y. to install runway status lights at 22 major U.S. airports. Runway status lights are designed to improve runway safety at busy airports by warning pilots when it is unsafe to cross or enter a runway.
These lights are designed with the pilot in mind, said Robert A. Sturgell, the FAA's acting administrator. It's a big step for safety on the runway. We're expecting to see positive results right from the start. The initial award is a three-year contract valued at $131 million to install the lights. There are two one-year options to install the lights at additional airports, for a total contract value of $215 million. Sensis Corp. is responsible for developing the software, testing and installing the lights. When runway status light prototypes at Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego International airports proved effective in helping avoid potential runway conflicts, the FAA decided to install the lights at the same airports where the Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X) systems are being installed, said Sturgell. The runway status lights will use the ASDE-X surveillance data to operate. As part of the initial contract, runway status lights will be deployed at Atlanta; Baltimore Washington International; Boston; Charlotte, NC; Chicago OHare; Dallas-Fort Worth; Denver; Detroit; Washington Dulles; Fort Lauderdale; Houston Intercontinental; New York John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Newark, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; San Diego; and Seattle airports. Installing runway status lights is just one of the FAAs initiatives to improve safety at U.S. airports. The FAA also recently reached agreements with four U.S. airlines to fund in-cockpit runway safety systems in exchange for critical operational data. The data will help the FAA evaluate the safety impact of the technology and is expected to accelerate key safety capabilities necessary for the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The FAA earlier announced it will provide $600,000 each to Skywest, Piedmont, U.S. Airways and Southwest Airlines to invest in surface moving maps that show the pilot where the aircraft is on the runway for flights to or from 21 test bed airports. The safety technology provides greater situational awareness for pilots to help them avoid unsafe operations on the airport surface.