The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Runway Status Lights (RWSL) programme has achieved the initial operating capability (IOC) milestone at seven airports, according to defence and security company Saab.
The aim of the RWSL programme is to increase the safety of runways and taxiways and reduction of runway incursions through warnings of potentially unsafe situations provided directly to the pilot. This programme has been deployed at a total of 17 airports across the US.
RWSL comprises two types of red warning lights, which need to be embedded in the pavements of runways or taxiways. The runway entrance lights are visible from the taxi hold position and turns on automatically when it is unsafe to enter a runway. Takeoff hold lights are visible from the takeoff hold point and illuminate automatically when it is unsafe to depart from a runway.
The system automatically activates the lights when the airport's surveillance system detects approaching traffic. The lights are switched off automatically once it is safe to proceed. However, this programme only indicates runway status. The clearance to enter, cross or takeoff from a runway has to be given by an air traffic controller.
Currently, the system is fully operational at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental, Orlando International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, McCarran International, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Washington Dulles International. Minneapolis-St Paul airport is currently in the IOC phase.
The programme is either under test or in the construction phase at the remaining ten airports.
Saab ATM general manager Ken Kaminski said: "We have steadily achieved runway status lights goals over the past year with the support of our partners and customers and are on-plan for the continued deployment of the programme.
"RWSL adds a layer of runway safety directly to the cockpit in all weather conditions and at night without increasing air traffic controller workload."