FAA Announces Runway Status Lights Now Fully Operational

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Runway Status Lights (RWSL), the first technology to provide direct warning to pilots about potential runway conflicts, is now operational at all 20 sites approved to receive the ground-breaking technology.

A report on the effectiveness of RWSL at the 15 airports where it was operational in 2017 found an overall 52% reduction in the average runway incursion rate, with 15,484 potential saves by the technology.

The FAA developed RWSL technology to increase situational awareness for flight crews and airport vehicle drivers, providing an added layer of runway safety. The technology alerts pilots and vehicle operators to stop when runways and taxiways are not safe to enter, cross or begin takeoff. Red lights embedded in the pavement illuminate when the presence of other traffic creates a potential conflict. RWSL uses the airport’s surface surveillance system to determine the location of aircraft and vehicles. The lights are fully automated, requiring no input from air traffic controllers.

Pilots and ground vehicle operators must still receive clearances from controllers for any operation on runways or taxiways.

The RWSL system is comprised of two types of lights. Runway Entrance Lights (REL) are deployed at taxiway and runway crossings and illuminate if it is unsafe to enter or cross a runway. Takeoff Hold Lights (THL) are deployed in the runway by the departure hold zone and illuminate when there is an aircraft in position for departure and the runway is occupied by another aircraft or vehicle and is unsafe for takeoff.

RWSLs are now operational at the following airports:

Baltimore-Washington International Airport

Boston Logan International Airport

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport

John F. Kennedy International Airport

LaGuardia International Airport

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport

Los Angeles International Airport

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Newark Liberty International Airport

Orlando International Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

San Diego International Airport

San Francisco International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport