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Airport Lighting Aids

a. With FAA approved systems, various combina-

tions of medium intensity approach lights, runway

lights, taxiway lights, VASI and/or REIL may be

activated by radio control. On runways with both

approach lighting and runway lighting (runway edge

lights, taxiway lights, etc.) systems, the approach

lighting system takes precedence for air−to−ground

radio control over the runway lighting system which

is set at a predetermined intensity step, based on

expected visibility conditions. Runways without

approach lighting may provide radio controlled

intensity adjustments of runway edge lights. Other

lighting systems, including VASI, REIL, and taxiway

lights may be either controlled with the runway edge

lights or controlled independently of the runway edge


b. The control system consists of a 3−step control

responsive to 7, 5, and/or 3 microphone clicks. This

3−step control will turn on lighting facilities capable

of either 3−step, 2−step or 1−step operation. The

3−step and 2−step lighting facilities can be altered in

intensity, while the 1−step cannot. All lighting is

illuminated for a period of 15 minutes from the most

recent time of activation and may not be extinguished

prior to end of the 15 minute period (except for 1−step

and 2−step REILs which may be turned off when

desired by keying the mike 5 or 3 times respectively).

c. Suggested use is to always initially key the mike

7 times; this assures that all controlled lights are

turned on to the maximum available intensity. If

desired, adjustment can then be made, where the

capability is provided, to a lower intensity (or the

REIL turned off) by keying 5 and/or 3 times. Due to

the close proximity of airports using the same

frequency, radio controlled lighting receivers may be

set at a low sensitivity requiring the aircraft to be

relatively close to activate the system. Consequently,

even when lights are on, always key mike as directed

when overflying an airport of intended landing or just

prior to entering the final segment of an approach.

This will assure the aircraft is close enough to activate

the system and a full 15 minutes lighting duration is

available. Approved lighting systems may be

activated by keying the mike (within 5 seconds) as

indicated in TBL 2−1−3.

TBL 2−1−3

Radio Control System

Key Mike


7 times within 5 seconds

Highest intensity available

5 times within 5 seconds

Medium or lower intensity

(Lower REIL or REIL−off)

3 times within 5 seconds

Lowest intensity available

(Lower REIL or REIL−off)

d. For all public use airports with FAA standard

systems the Chart Supplement U.S. contains the types

of lighting, runway and the frequency that is used to

activate the system. Airports with IAPs include data

on the approach chart identifying the light system, the

runway on which they are installed, and the frequency

that is used to activate the system.


Although the CTAF is used to activate the lights at many

airports, other frequencies may also be used. The

appropriate frequency for activating the lights on the

airport is provided in the Chart Supplement U.S. and the

standard instrument approach procedures publications. It

is not identified on the sectional charts.

e. Where the airport is not served by an IAP, it may

have either the standard FAA approved control

system or an independent type system of different

specification installed by the airport sponsor. The

Chart Supplement U.S. contains descriptions of pilot

controlled lighting systems for each airport having

other than FAA approved systems, and explains the

type lights, method of control, and operating

frequency in clear text.

2−1−10. Airport/Heliport Beacons

a. Airport and heliport beacons have a vertical

light distribution to make them most effective from

one to ten degrees above the horizon; however, they

can be seen well above and below this peak spread.

The beacon may be an omnidirectional capacitor−dis-

charge device, or it may rotate at a constant speed

which produces the visual effect of flashes at regular

intervals. Flashes may be one or two colors

alternately. The total number of flashes are:

1. 24 to 30 per minute for beacons marking

airports, landmarks, and points on Federal airways.

2. 30 to 45 per minute for beacons marking