Airport lighting: safety, visual comfort and energy efficiency

By: Secom
21 de February, 2023
Reading time: 5 min

Airport lighting demands a large-scale technical project which must weigh up many different aspects. A large airport can have up to 30,000 luminaires, most of them switched on 24 hours a day. Lighting does not only improve visibility and safety, it also helps to create more welcoming spaces while people wait for their flight or do some work.

In this article we will talk about...

  • Why lighting is so important in an airport
  • Runway lighting
  • Indoor airport lighting
  • General exterior lighting
  • Range of SECOM luminaires

Why lighting is so important in an airport

An airport has widely varying exterior and interior spaces that have completely different lighting needs. Tackling a project of such proportions is a mammoth task.

Proper illumination of this type of facility is essential to guarantee the safety and well-being of thousands, even millions, of people every year. These are high-transit areas, day and night, where proper visibility, comfort and the possibility of downtime are paramount.

Runway lighting

Airport apron lighting is critical for proper aircraft traffic flow. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) establishes a series of airport lighting requirements that apply everywhere in the world. The main mission of this organisation, which belongs to the United Nations (UN), is air transport regulation and safety.

One of the requirements is that pilots be guaranteed the same navigation conditions around the world. This includes ensuring standard lighting in any airport for increased certainty during manoeuvres. The power, intensity, colour, configuration and spacing between runway lights must also all follow the same standards.

Iluminación pista de aterrizaje

Runways usually have the following lights:

  • Runway end identifier lights (REIL).
  • Runway edge lights.
  • Runway centreline lights.
  • Touchdown zone lights (TZL).
  • Land and hold short operations (LAHSO).
  • Approach lighting system (ALS).
  • Precision approach path indicator (PAPI).

Indoor airport lighting

Indoor airport lighting is subject to standard UNE-EN 12464-1. In terminals, which are the key areas of an airport, LED lights have taken over due to their durability, energy efficiency and versatility. Functional lighting is important during the check-in procedure, as well as at the security checkpoints and in the passenger waiting and boarding areas.

Direct lights are avoided to reduce annoying glare for passengers who have a long wait until their flight, and therefore reflection is kept to a minimum. Signs must also be easily visible and not irritate the eye.

In transit areas guidance lighting can be used, with different colours or brightness and specific lighting designs.

Four different types of lighting can be used: direct, indirect, a combination of the two and natural light. In most airports, artificial lights remain switched on during the day, alongside natural light. Indoor lighting must be designed bearing in mind aesthetics, functionality, comfort and energy efficiency.

Iluminación de un aeropuerto

LED bulbs are a safe bet given the round-the-clock use of artificial lighting in airports. They allow savings of around 90% when compared to conventional solutions. It goes without saying that energy saving and sustainability are two key factors to keep in mind when planning an airport lighting system.

General exterior lighting

Exterior airport lighting is subject to standard UNE-EN 12464-2. Luminaires with high IP ratings for dust and water protection must be used, as they need to withstand adverse weather conditions.

Airports are increasingly turning to new façade lighting solutions. They serve to enhance the building’s architectural features and forms, which improves the passenger’s experience and boosts visual appeal.

Many other exterior areas also need to be illuminated, including car parks, entrances and hangars. The lighting standards for hangars differ from other areas of the airport because the main goal is to provide lighting that ensures maximum safety and zero accidents.

This type of lighting system is particularly complex because, as well as fulfilling regulations, it also needs to have the necessary licences.

Iluminación de aeropuertos

Range of SECOM luminaires

SECOM has solutions for any airport space that needs to be illuminated. The following are some of the LED solutions featured in the catalogue:

  • Aircom supra: This recessed ceiling light is especially recommended for vast spaces.
  • Panel CUBIC: Another ideal light for indoor transit areas due to its low level of glare.
  • Trido LED: Guidance lighting which stands out for its low energy and modern design. It can be used indoors and outdoors, especially in transit areas such as stairs, entrances to lifts, corridors and car parks.
  • Esdium/Innvictum LED: Powerful and high-performance outdoor projector lights.

All of these products use LED technology, ensuring durability and low energy consumption. The result is high energy saving and energy efficiency.

Before undertaking an airport lighting project, the research and information-gathering process is critical. The different options for each space can be weighed up, although the prevailing criteria must always be safety, comfort, visibility and energy efficiency.

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