A Brighter Future

Hella’s 0.25in (6.3mm) installation height results in a low contact point, making damage from ground support equipment less likely. (All images: Hella)

Caroline Cook explores how LED airfield lighting can save costs and energy.

Hella’s 0.25in (6.3mm) installation height results in a low contact point, making damage from ground support equipment less likely. (All images: Hella)

As the world moves towards more environmentally-friendly technology, the aviation industry in particular has plenty of opportunities to develop its ‘green’ factor.  More and more airports are welcoming digital check-ins, fuel-efficient tow tractors, water-saving toilet facilities and renewable energy sources, in an attempt to protect the planet and keep costs down.
Light-emitting diode (LED) technology continues to lead the way for ecologically beneficial airfield lighting.  In comparison to halogen lights, LEDs are brighter, they last longer and they use less energy.
Originally involved in the automotive industry, German lighting company Hella began producing LED fixtures for airfield lighting solutions in 2009, and recently exhibited its products at April’s Airport Infra Expo in São Paulo, Brazil.
A particular advantage of LED technology is its extended service life of approximately 50,000 hours.  Although LEDs in warmer countries will only last 30,000 hours, it is still a vast difference in comparison to halogen lighting’s ‘maximum’ 2,000 hours.
Sonja Strand, Hella’s Head of Airport Lighting, told Airports International:  “A long service life means less maintenance costs.  With 50,000 hours of service, the LEDs will not need to be replaced very often.  In fact, an airport won’t need to change their lights for around five years, depending on environment, utilisation and load.”
Hella’s lighting fixtures are also made with highly durable materials which are designed to prevent damage and further sustain service life.  Made with shatter- and scratch-proof glass, the fixtures are resistant to temperatures between -55°C and 85°C, which mean they are ideal for the varying conditions at an airport.  Hella claims the “core competencies” of its runway and taxiway lights are their minimal external diameters of 8in (20.3cm) and a 0.25in (6.3mm) installation height.  Ms Strand commented:  “Even our 12in [30.5cm] variants for the runway edge are designed with equally small dimensions.”
The height in particular avoids unnecessary damage by offering a low contact point for ground support equipment, such as snow ploughs, and by collecting less dirt.  Further benefits include an easy initial installation, as the LED fixtures don’t require new leads, bases or additional components.  Furthermore, they comprise decoupled light modules and aluminium housing.  This, Hella states, provides “effortless replacement” of the light source at any time, meaning that the systems can be up-to-date with the latest standards.  Altogether, the company claims that maintenance costs can be reduced by up to 70%.
The lights contain no harmful substances, such as mercury or lead, and they cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 85%.  Ms Strand explained that LEDs save much more energy than halogen bulbs, and even have adjustable brightness levels.  “For example, an airport can have brighter LEDs during bad, cloudy weather, and then reduce the dim level for good weather, which means
The LED Approach Light is available in red as siderow, or white as approach.

that more energy is saved.”
Meanwhile, Hella’s range of products cover numerous inset applications with LED technology, including taxiway centreline, the stopbar and touchdown zone, among others.  Additionally, Hella has numerous elevated lights refitted with LED technology such as taxiway edge, obstruction lights, runway end and runway edge.  Runway centreline lights are also available, although some countries may require approval for the technology.  Hella has already installed these fixtures at four Norwegian airports including Stavanger and Kristiansand, Luxembourg Airport in Luxembourg, and Paderborn Lippstadt Airport in Germany.
At the Airport Infra Expo, the company was promoting its latest product, the LED Approach Light.  The product was launched at inter airport Europe 2011 and is available in red as siderow, or white as approach with more than 20,000 candle power (cd).
According to the company, this LED fixture spends only 40 watts (W) of energy at its highest dim level compared to 150W or 200W in existing halogen bulbs.  The light is easily adjustable, due to its patented ballpoint, and can be mounted on tube, pole or base plates.
Speaking at the show, Ms Strand explained that the Latin American region was an important market.  “We have made lots of good contacts and had a lot of interest in the equipment.  There are no other companies producing LEDs of this quality.”
In terms of finance, LED lighting products can cost around 35% more than the halogen lights, although Ms Strand believes that this is outweighed by the savings in energy and maintenance costs.  When asked about delivery times, she stated that the company organises a business case for each airport, to judge the duration depending on the customer’s requirements and Hella’s stock.  However, she said, most deliveries take between six and 12 weeks.