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rjsampson
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Posts: 326
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:00 am

Runway light intensity

Tue May 21, 2019 9:20 pm

From flying into uncontrolled airports, I usually key the mic to turn the lights on to the highest setting.

Seems like most large airports keep their runway lights on a low setting. When I'm looking at the airfield as a passenger, the lights are almost invisible and the field looks dark, except for the aircraft beacons -- and those runway guard lights (those are BRIGHT!).

Do most airports keep the runway lights at low settings?
"..your eyes will be forever turned skyward, for there.." yeah we know the DaVinci quote. But GA is so dang expensive these days! :(
 
portcolumbus
Posts: 1650
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2000 7:10 am

Re: Runway light intensity

Wed May 22, 2019 1:19 am

Lights are set by time of day and visibility. There are charts based on the type of lighting system.
 
SAAFNAV
Posts: 561
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:41 pm

Re: Runway light intensity

Wed May 22, 2019 7:22 am

If you fly during a clear night and turn the lights to max on an instrument runway, it will be unbearably bright and blinding.
At my home airfield we used to ask for 10%, which was their lowest setting, but even lower would've been great.
L-382 Loadmaster; ex C-130B Navigator
 
vikkyvik
Posts: 12423
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:58 pm

Re: Runway light intensity

Wed May 22, 2019 2:27 pm

rjsampson wrote:
When I'm looking at the airfield as a passenger, the lights are almost invisible and the field looks dark, except for the aircraft beacons -- and those runway guard lights (those are BRIGHT!).


You mean when you look at it from in the air?

I think runway and taxiway lights are probably designed so they don't project too much light upwards. They seem to be most visible when you are either 1.) on or close to the ground, or 2.) nearly in-line with the runway.

Kinda makes sense, to cut down on light pollution.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
shamrock137
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2005 7:10 am

Re: Runway light intensity

Wed May 22, 2019 10:47 pm

rjsampson wrote:
Seems like most large airports keep their runway lights on a low setting. When I'm looking at the airfield as a passenger, the lights are almost invisible and the field looks dark, except for the aircraft beacons -- and those runway guard lights (those are BRIGHT!).


Its hard to compare your view as a passenger out the window or from the terminal. When you're in a cockpit or in your small aircraft, the lights are off, screens are dim, sort of the opposite of a terminal or a cabin with the lights on or a bright IFE screen is in front of you. This will make the lights pop much more when your eyes are adjusted to the dark. Additionally, and I might be 100% wrong on this one, but I believe larger airports can adjust the lighting per runway and taxiway, meaning that the active runways might be a little brighter then a runway not in use. One thing another poster mentioned is that the lightning is directional. This is true on some runways, the lenses focus the light in the direction of the runway, vs a taxiway light that is more of a 360 degree beacon, meaning that when you're lined up for the runway, the lights will appear brighter.
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