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  1. Analysis
February 28, 2006

LEDs Light the Way

Huw Kidwell investigates the latest developments in LED airfield lighting and guidance systems. He predicts a bright future for this robust, low-maintenance technology.

By cms admin

ALSTOM Aerospace – Airports have launched the ZA216L, a new taxiway edge light that utilises Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology and will provide a ‘quantum leap’ in performance.


The ZA216L exhibits many new features and concepts when compared to the existing incandescent based technology. The three high power ‘luxeon’ light emitting diodes developed by Lumidrives Ltd can produce enough light from 3W whereas the existing technology would need at least 30W per light. For airport operators, a 90% reduction in power will provide considerable savings in infrastructure and operating costs for their visual aid lighting.

Also, a projected life of the ZA216L is expected to be in excess of 50,000 hours, and thus increase the interval between maintenance from one to eight years. When compared to existing technology, the LED product will provide a considerable saving in resource to the airport operator.

The ZA216L project also represents a partnership between a number of different suppliers. ALSTOM Kidsgrove has devised a dedicated power converter that will enable the LED airfield light to operate from the airfield circuit power infrastructure. The ZA216L will match the response performance of the existing technology and create the different intensity levels that are specified by international airfield standards.

The power converter will also lead to other LED developments that will provide functions and applications that are not currently feasible with the existing technology.

The release of the ZA216L is timely as the CAA have recently issued a ‘NOTAL’ that will allow UK Airports to implement LED technology on their taxiways after consultation and trials with Industry working groups.

Manchester and Oxford Airport have installed 80 of the new ZA216L taxiway edge lights and pilots have already reported an improvement in operations.

ALSTOM Aerospace – Airports ALSTOM Power Technology Centre Cambridge Road Whetstone, Leicester LE8 6LH UK Tel: +44 1788 563494 Fax: +44 1788 563756 Email: URL:

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