Defense and security company Saab has announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Runway Status Lights (RWSL) program has achieved the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) milestone at seven airports. IOC indicates the system is fully operational for Air Traffic Control purposes. RWSL, being deployed to a total of 17 airports nationwide, enhances the safety of runways and taxiways and reduces runway incursions through warnings of potentially unsafe situations provided directly to the pilot.
RWSL is comprised of two types of red warning lights embedded in the pavement of a runway or taxiway: Runway Entrance Lights (REL), visible from the taxi hold position, that turn on automatically when it is unsafe to enter a runway; and Takeoff Hold Lights (THL), visible from the takeoff hold point, that illuminate automatically when it is unsafe to depart from a runway.
The system operates by automatically illuminating the lights if the airport’s surface surveillance system, Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X), detects traffic on or approaching the same runway as a taxiing or departing aircraft. Lights are automatically turned off when it is safe to proceed. RWSL indicate runway status only; clearance to enter, cross or takeoff from a runway must still be given by an air traffic controller.
“We have steadily achieved Runway Status Lights goals over the past year with the support of our partners and customer and are on-plan for the continued deployment of the program,” said Ken Kaminski, general manager of Saab ATM. “RWSL adds a layer of runway safety directly to the cockpit in all weather conditions and at night without increasing air traffic controller workload.”
The RWSL systems are now fully operational and commissioned at six airports: George Bush Intercontinental (Houston), Orlando International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, McCarran International, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Washington Dulles International. In addition, Minneapolis-St. Paul is also in the IOC phase and the systems at the ten remaining airports are either under test or in the construction phase.
Saab is the prime contractor and lead system integrator for RWSL. The team also includes ADB Airfield Solutions for the field lighting and control system and HNTB Corporation for site design.