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Airport Lighting Aids


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


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


The control system consists of a 3

−step control

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

−step control will turn on lighting facilities capable

of either 3

−step, 2−step or 1−step operation. The


−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


and 2

−step REILs which may be turned off when

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


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




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


3 times within 5 seconds

Lowest intensity available
(Lower REIL or REIL



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.


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.


−1−10. Airport/Heliport Beacons


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


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:


24 to 30 per minute for beacons marking

airports, landmarks, and points on Federal airways.


30 to 45 per minute for beacons marking