Vaisala’s New Runway Visual Range System Approved for Air Traffic Control Use in the USA

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Vaisala AviMet® PC-Based Runway Visual Range (RVR) system for air traffic control use in airports across the country. The primary users of the system are air traffic controllers who access RVR data through an improved display application, also developed by Vaisala.

Runway Visual Range is a calculated assessment of the distance that a pilot can see down a runway. Prevailing weather conditions have the most impact on RVR, but ambient light levels and runway light settings also play an important part in the equation. In addition to having an obvious impact on flight safety, RVR assessment also has an impact on airport capacity as runways can be safely kept open longer under diminishing weather conditions.

Vaisala’s RVR system is a PC-based solution that provides fully automated runway visual range assessment and reporting. The system consists of Vaisala’s state-of-the-art optical sensors for determining meteorological optical range (FS11) and measuring ambient light level (LM21), and of a newly developed runway light intensity monitor. A data processing unit collects the data, calculates RVR values and provides the data to users via various interfaces.

A prototype of the AviMet® PC-Based Runway Visual Range system was installed at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Pennsylvania in August 2007. Since the installation, the system has undergone extensive operational testing in real-life conditions. Soon Wilkes-Barre will be the first airport in the world to have the PC-based RVR system in official operational use.