Many of people have heard this expression before, but only few of them are privileged to contribute in the huge efforts done to reach the moment where the ATC controller says this with full confidence!
In today’s world, airports become more and more congested, which add challenges to the aviation specialist to maintain smooth traffic at the maximum capacity but without jeopardizing the airfield safety. Here the importance of having efficient Aeronautical Ground Lighting (AGL) system rises, to provide sufficient visual guidance to pilots at all times and under different conditions including Low Visibility Operation, from the moment the aircraft is landed safely on the runway till it reach to its allocated parking stand.
Driven by their utmost keenness to meet the best levels of airfield safety, through applying the highest standards, adopting the latest procedures and technologies, many airport operators decided to invest in the implementation of CATIIIB routing. This system is deemed the highest available AGL standard that ensure airfield is safe and smooth operation within visibility conditions as low as 50m. With thousands of lights of different types and function, connected through a huge network of different types of power cables, controlled and monitored by a state-of-the-art Airfield Lighting Control & Monitoring System that can control and monitor each individual light in the airfield, which gives the ability not only to establish dynamic secured CATIIB routing based on the operation’s needs, but also its increase the efficiency of the AGL maintenance teams through sending real-time feedback about the instant status of each individual light; this help to save thousands of Manhours spent annually on the periodic check on the AGL lights, which remains incomparable to the efficiency and accuracy that can be achieved by the ALCMS.
Smart Airports is trending in all aviation conferences and within the leaders of the aviation industry; it aims to create a smart environment where all systems interact harmoniously with each other; to attain the optimal passenger-experience. In line with this concept, AGL system is interfaced these days with a number of other systems such as Visual Docking Guidance System (VDGS) so as to light up only the parking stand designated to the docking aircraft so as to ensure the air-safety during Low Visibility Operation (LVO).
Among many airport special systems, AGL is considered at the top positions within a very limited list of systems that any small degradation in their performance may deeply influence the airport operation, it is no wonder airports never hesitate to invest in the continual improvement of this system; as its correct and accurate performance may draw the line between nonstop operation and traffic diversion.
Such essential and vital system needs unique expertise and high caliber specialist for the implementation, testing and commissioning phases; in addition to the complicity of the system structure, the allowable tolerance in AGL is measured in millimeters, it is even more challenging, when the construction is managed by zero-tolerance persons.
Ashraf Alsharif, MIET, IAP.