The Clear Approach to Bristol

The SmartControl system currently operational at Bristol International Airport has also been installed at London Heathrow. (All- KEY Archive)

Gareth Stockle of ATG Airports explains how the company equipped Bristol International Airport with a full range of products while carrying out the first major upgrade to maintain full Category-III lighting operations.

The SmartControl system currently operational at Bristol International Airport has also been installed at London Heathrow. (All- KEY Archive)

Since its formation in 1993, ATG Airports has always prided itself on its dedication to customer service, as well as cutting-edge airfield lighting solutions.  On a recent project with Bristol Airport, involving a complete rewire of the runway and taxiways services as well as an upgrade of the AGL control system, ATG demonstrated this commitment with what is believed to be a world first.
ATG Airports carried out the major upgrade while maintaining full Category III(b) compliance during daytime operations.  CAT III(b) refers to lighting suitable for visibility of just a few hundred metres.  Naturally, maintaining full CAT III operations ensured minimal disruption and saved a considerable sum of money for the West Country airport.
The Bristol Airport project was unique in another way too. ATG Airports is one of the few companies worldwide to provide a one-stop shop for all clients’ airport lighting requirements.  Its products are manufactured in Warrington, in England’s North West, where ATG Airports has assembled some of the most advanced and cutting-edge production workshops and training facilities in the world.  The company’s many and varied products are all supported by a critical airside installation, commissioning and maintenance service.  ATG’s range of Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL) products such as market leading range of airfield luminaires, constant current regulators, airfield signs and SMGCS control systems all help to guide pilots and aircraft safely out of the skies at over 750 international airports across the globe.

The introduction of LED’s into ATG's Clearway guidance signs has already led to orders from a number of major international airports.


At Bristol, the umbrella project comprised resurfacing of the runway and taxiway infrastructure.  ATG was responsible for upgrading the existing AGL control system, rewiring of the entire CAT III airfield ground lighting system, while also supplying and installing new luminaires and constant current regulators (CCRs).
Rob O’Dare, Civil Engineering Projects Manager at Bristol Airport, said: “Due to the relatively high incidence of LVP restrictions at Bristol, we assessed early on that continuing to provide CAT III was an important and challenging goal for the project team.  Maintaining CAT III throughout the project helped us minimise disruption to flying operations that could have resulted from losing this level of ILS capability.
“ATG’s ‘can-do’ attitude and commitment to finding a solution that wouldn’t affect the nightly paving volumes or significantly extend the project programme proved a critical factor during the contractor selection process.  Despite other well publicised challenges during the project, no flights were delayed or diverted.”
The ATG Airports project at Bristol Airport comprised:

ATG airports offer a full range of approach, runway and taxiway luminaires.


The ATG Airports installation team removed all the ageing fittings that had been on site and installed brand new, state of the art inset and elevated taxiway fittings, along with associated products such as new seating pots, AGL ground transformers and all of the AGL cabling infrastructure.
ATG Airports is not alone in making LED technology a prominent feature of ground lighting portfolios.  With a lamp life exceeding 50,000 hours and a range of colours to suit a variety of different applications, LED is a versatile and environmental solution all of which helping to reduce the carbon footprint of many of the world’s airports.
Recent developments in high intensity LEDs have made the concept of fully compliant runway LED fittings a reality.  Richard Farmer, Optical Product Development Engineer at ATG Airports, said: “LED technology is becoming the norm in taxiway lighting.  A reduction in power consumption and the number of outages as well as the vastly increased life of the fitting have all been effective in reducing maintenance times and ensured obvious cost savings to the airport.”
Control System
The ATG SmartControl system, currently in operation at London Heathrow, is also utilised at Bristol Airport.  The system, which ATG upgraded as part of the runway resurfacing project, has been continually developed alongside the airfield infrastructure since its installation.  The system currently interfaces with all of the existing CCRs, standby generators and UPS, as well as controlling all of the existing airfield ground lighting and switchable circuits associated with the stopbar and lead-on circuits.
ATG airports offer a full range of approach, runway and taxiway luminaires.

Developments at Bristol mirror the changing nature of AGL control systems across the world.  ATG’s SmartControl system in operation at Heathrow controls over 13,000 lamps, 260 constant-current regulators (CCRs) and 6,000 airfield segments.
It is so important to thousands of people everyday that contingencies must be in place if problems arise.  That’s why ATG airports, in cooperation with National Air Traffic Services, have developed a non-visual contingency tower.  The fully operational but windowless room is an exact replica of the existing control tower and will be able to handle 75% of normal traffic should the actual tower be affected by fire, failure, damage or attack.  The new, fully certified remote ‘control tower’ will enable existing low visibility procedures, utilising surface surveillance systems in order to operate without an actual view of the airfield.
Airfield Signs
Also on site at Bristol Airport are Clearway Airfield Guidance signs.  ATG continue to maintain the world class reputation of these signs by employing many innovative engineering processes and technologies to supply airports with reliable and well designed airfield guidance.
The introduction of LED technology has been a major step forward, providing the same power and reliability benefits as previously seen in taxiway luminaires.  Manchester and Stansted have taken delivery of a significant order of Clearway LED signs from ATG, and Germany’s busiest airport, Frankfurt, has taken the first delivery of an order for over 650 signs.  The development of these innovative technologies has allowed ATG to provide NATO with portable airfield-guidance signs using a DC electrical supply that are still fully compliant with all current international standards.

Since Bristol, ATG airports’ installation teams have completed major projects at Newquay, Edinburgh and Mombasa International Airports.


ATG’s Micro range of CCRs has been at the forefront of the regulator industry since its release and has been supplied to airports across the world.  The FAA-certified Micro 100 unit, currently in use at Bristol Airport among hundreds of other sites around the globe, is a micro-processor-controlled unit with a front-mounted display.  It allows users to view a huge range of data, including circuit voltage, circuit current, insulation-resistance readings, number of lamps failed and total hours run.
ATG’s latest CCR development is the Micro 200.  This provides a sinusoidal output at near-unity power factor.  This state-of-the-art CCR has been specifically designed to be compatible with LED-type airfield-lighting fixtures and comes in a range of sizes, from 2.5 kVA to 15 kVA.
The future
ATG’s Business Development Manager, Andy Sole, said: “ATG Airports already has an enviable track record with many of the world’s major international airport hubs.  However, investment in the technologies of the future, plus an emphasis on providing outstanding customer care, will ensure that our worldwide reputation continues to flourish.”