The National Academies

ACRP 09-09 [Final]

LED Airfield Lighting System Operation and Maintenance

  Project Data
Research Agency: Burns Engineering
Principal Investigator: John Burns
Effective Date: 8/9/2013
Completion Date: 9/30/2015
Comments: Research complete. Results published in ACRP Report 148.


Airports require reliable airfield lighting to ensure continuity of service at night or other periods with low visibility. A significant component of an airport’s operating budget is dedicated to operating and maintaining airfield lighting systems. Light Emitting Diode (LED) airfield lighting offers a potential for substantially reduced maintenance and utility costs. In addition, the industry is accelerating the replacement of traditional lighting technologies with new, more efficient technologies, such as LED, in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act (2007). While LED lighting offers improved efficiencies and reliability, there are several challenges to its operation and maintenance (O&M), including potential for obstruction by snow and ice, unique maintenance training and orientation requirements, and the desire to monitor system performance. Additionally, O&M factors should also be considered during the design and implementation of airfield lighting systems. Research is needed to develop guidance for airports to optimize the operation and maintenance of LED airfield lighting systems.


The objective of this research is to prepare a guidebook for airports describing the best operating and maintenance practices for LED airfield lighting systems, and the issues to be considered during their design and construction. The guidebook should include (but not be limited to):
1. A review of the use of LED technology for airfield lighting, its advantages and disadvantages versus other lighting technologies (e.g., lack of an infrared signature), and future trends;
2. A list of sources to obtain FAA-approved/certified vendors and fixtures;
3. O&M factors to be considered in LED airfield system design;
4. Commissioning considerations for handing off LED airfield lighting systems to the owner, including initial training, technical manuals, and other materials;
5. O&M considerations;
6. Removal/reinstallation guidance (e.g., during pavement maintenance);
7. Approaches to protecting LED airfield lighting systems from atypical conditions (e.g., flooding, chemical contamination, insect infestation);
8. Case study examples of LED airfield lighting system projects; and
9. Best LED operation and maintenance practices based on a review of literature, researcher experience, and case study results.


Research is complete.  Results published in ACRP Report 148.

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