U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
Air Traffic Organization Policy

ORDER
JO 7210.3X
Effective Date:
February 9, 2012
 
     
Subject:  Facility Operation and Administration
       Includes:  Errata effective 2/9/12, Change 1 effective 7/26/12, Change 2 effective 3/7/13, and Change 3 effective 8/22/13
 

Section 6. Airport Lighting

10-6-1. GENERAL

The airport manager/operator is responsible for operating airport lights during the hours the tower is closed.

10-6-2. OPERATION OF LIGHTS WHEN TOWER IS CLOSED

When the tower is closed, the airport lights must be operated:

a. By the on-site FSS when:

1. The controls are extended into the station and are located conveniently at the operating position.

2. The operating quarters afford a sufficient view to determine the operating status of the lights without the specialist having to leave his/her post of duty, or an indicator is provided in the station's quarters which will show the actual operating status.

b. If no FSS is located on the airport and the lighting controls are provided in the tower cab, tower personnel before closing the tower must ensure that the airport rotating beacon, obstruction lights, and boundary lights are turned on. All other lighting systems, including runway lights, must be set in accordance with a letter of agreement with the airport manager/operator. However, runway lights must not be lighted by tower personnel if a NOTAM closing that runway is in effect.

c. At locations where the setting of the runway edge lights control the associated medium approach light system/runway alignment indicator lights, include in a letter of agreement with the airport manager/operator that during the period the tower is closed, the runway edge lights must be operated at the following step settings:

1. High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL)- Step 3.

2. Medium Intensity Runway Lights-Step 2.

d. If the airport manager/operator will not agree to the step settings, the provisions of subpara c above, must apply. In addition, notify the appropriate FSDO.

e. If the airport manager/operator will not enter into a letter of agreement, all runway lighting controls operating from the tower must be turned off. If appropriate, a runway lighting NOTAM will be issued.

f. Unless otherwise directed by the Terminal Operations Service Area Office, the air traffic facility responsible for controlling or monitoring lighting aids must originate NOTAMs concerning the aids.

10-6-3. INCOMPATIBLE LIGHT SYSTEM OPERATION

If the operation of a light system is not compatible with the instructions herein, or if the manager/operator of a civil airport or the commanding officer of a military airport prescribes an operating period different from those in this section or FAAO JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, Chapter 3, Section 4, Airport Lighting, or FAAO JO 7110.10, Flight Services, (except for the airport rotating beacon), the airport lighting system may be operated if a letter of agreement is executed. Each agreement must set forth the operating periods, the pertinent requirements, and a statement that the lights will be available upon pilot request. If an agreement covers the operation of runway lights while the tower or the FSS is closed, it must also contain the following clauses:

a. The airport owner/operator covenants and expressly agrees that with regard to any liability which may arise from the operation of the runway lights at the airport during any period when the airport traffic control tower (flight service station) at (name) airport is closed or nonoperational, that each party must be solely and exclusively liable for the negligence of its own agents, servants, and/or employees, in accordance with applicable law, and that neither party looks to the other to save or hold it harmless for the consequences of any negligence on the part of one of its own agents, servants, and/or employees.

b. Runway lights may not be lighted by tower (FSS) personnel if a NOTAM closing that runway is in effect.

10-6-4. APPROACH LIGHT SYSTEMS

a. The procedures in this paragraph pertain to the following approach light systems (see FAAO 6850.2, Visual Guidance Lighting Systems):

1. ALSF-1: Approach Light System (ALS) with Sequenced Flasher Lights (SFL) in Category 1 configuration.

2. ALSF-2: Approach Light System with Sequenced Flasher Lights in Category 2 configuration.

3. MALS: Medium Intensity Approach Light System. When associated with Sequenced Flashers, MALSF.

4. MALSR: Medium Intensity Approach Lights with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights.

5. SSALS: Simplified Short Approach Light System. When complemented by Sequenced Flashers, SSALF.

6. SSALR: Simplified Short Approach Lights with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights.

7. ODALS: Omnidirectional Approach Lighting System.

b. Facility air traffic managers having responsibility for approach light systems must adhere to the following:

1. Where an approach light system monitoring device is provided, perform a monitor check at the beginning of each workday. Consult with the Technical Operations technician for monitor check procedures. Report any discrepancy noted in the monitor check or any report of malfunction, either observed or received from any source, to the Technical Operations technician as soon as possible regardless of the time (day/night).

NOTE-
During periods of known commercial electrical power shortage within the areas where the approach lighting system is located, the monitor check should be delayed until off-peak hours. The interval between monitor checks must not exceed 24 hours during electrical power shortages.

2. When the monitor alarms, advise aircraft on approach that the monitor panel indicates a system malfunction. The monitor is designed to indicate that at least the predetermined number of light units (lamps), plus or minus one, are inoperative. The approach light system should not be reported as unusable or inoperative until receipt of the technician's report that the system is not operating or is malfunctioning unless it can be determined by visual reference from the tower or from a reliable source (e.g., pilot, airport manager) that one of these two conditions exists. When a report indicates that at least four adjacent bars are out (three or more lamps out on a bar determine bar outage) or four consecutive sequence flashers are out, landing minima criteria are changed. If this condition exists, the air traffic facility manager must send the appropriate NOTAM.

3. Monitors do not indicate light obscurement due to snow, sand, plant growth, etc. When such a condition is reported or suspected, request the Technical Operations technician to describe the visibility condition of the approach light system. If the technician reports at least four adjacent bars or four consecutive sequence flashers are obscured, the air traffic facility manager must send the appropriate NOTAM.

4. At locations which do not have duplicate lighting controls in the FSS on the airport, operation of the ALS during the hours of darkness when the tower is unmanned must be as follows:

(a) ALSF-1 and ALSF-2 must be turned on and set to intensity #3. The Sequence Flashing Lights (SFL) must not be turned on.

(b) SSALR not controlled by radio or other suitable means must be turned on and set to intensity #3. The Runway Alignment Indicator Lights (RAIL) must not be turned on unless the ALS has been modified to provide variable RAIL intensity.

(c) MALSR not controlled by runway edge lights, radio, or other suitable means must be turned on and set to intensity #2 for Three Step MALS/Three Step RAIL, and Low setting for Two Step MALS/One Step RAIL. The RAIL must not be turned on unless the ALS has been modified to provide variable RAIL intensity.

(d) When MALSR intensity is controlled by runway edge lights, apply the procedures in sub-para 10-6-2c.

(e) If the ALS system is equipped with ground-to-ground/air-to-ground links, tower personnel must switch the system to air-to-ground radio control before closing the tower.

(f) Issue a NOTAM containing information that the system is unattended and the appropriate FSFO having jurisdiction over the area must be notified of the operational status of the ALS.

(g) When required to meet local atmospheric, topographic, or twilight conditions, prepare a facility directive specifying the intensity settings for the ALS and forward a copy to the FSDO.

c. At airports with air traffic control towers equipped with airport lighting control panels that do not provide direct indication of airport lighting intensities, the ATM, with the airport operator, must annually review and compare the preset selection settings configured in the tower lighting control system to verify that they comply with FAA requirements.

 

10-6-5. VISUAL APPROACH SLOPE INDICATOR (VASI) SYSTEMS

a. There are three basic VASI configurations: VASI-2, VASI-4, and VASI-12. Two additional configurations were developed for use with long-bodied aircraft by adding a third bar to either the VASI-4 or the VASI-12. These configurations are referred to as VASI-6 and VASI-16.

b. The basic FAA standard for VASI systems permit independent operation by means of a photoelectric device. This system has no remote monitor and no on-off control feature. It is intended for continuous operation.

c. Other VASI systems in use include the following:

1. The basic VASI as described in subpara b, except at locations where the system was installed with an on-off remote switch in the control tower. If an on-off switch is provided, it is intended that the VASI be operated on a continuous basis when the runway it serves is in use. Airport operators at some locations may request the facility air traffic manager to operate this system only during certain hours and/or conditions. When this occurs, facility air traffic managers must contact the Terminal Operations Service Area Office for guidance.

NOTE-
When VASI systems are installed under the FAA's Airport Improvement Program, the sponsor may negotiate a letter of agreement with the regional Airports Division for a part-time VASI operation. Terminal Operations Service Area Offices should consult with the regional Airports Division on such matters.

2. Systems that are operated remotely from the control tower may be either two-step or three-step. It is intended that these systems be operated on a continuous basis when the runway they serve is in use.

3. Systems with steep descent profiles intended for STOL operations may be operated on an individual aircraft basis or as determined by the facility air traffic manager dependent upon the frequency of use.

d. The basic FAA standard VASI is not provided with a remote status indicator. At locations where a VASI remote status indicator is installed, specialists must notify air traffic when a malfunction is indicated or reported. The VASI should not be turned off nor a NOTAM issued unless the Technical Operations technician advises it is inoperative or if it is obvious that it is inoperative. In the event the technician advises there is a one side operating condition at locations with a VASI on both sides of a runway, the system must remain in operation and NOTAM indicating partial operations issued.

10-6-6. PRECISION APPROACH PATH INDICATOR (PAPI) SYSTEMS

a. The basic FAA standard for PAPI systems permit independent operation by means of a photoelectric device. This system has no remote monitor and no on-off control feature. It is intended for continuous operation.

b. Other PAPI systems in use include the following:

1. The basic PAPI system as described in subpara a, except at locations where the system was installed with an on-off remote switch in the control tower. If an on-off switch is provided, it is intended that the PAPI be operated on a continuous basis when the runway it serves is in use. Airport operators at some locations may request the facility air traffic manager to operate this system only during certain hours and/or conditions. When this occurs, facility air traffic managers must contact the Terminal Operations Service Area office for guidance.

2. Systems that are operated remotely from the control tower may be five-step. It is intended that these systems be operated on a continuous basis when the runway they serve is in use.

NOTE-
When PAPI systems are installed under the FAA's Airport Improvement Program, the sponsor may negotiate a letter of agreement with the regional Airports Division for a part-time PAPI operation. Terminal Operations Service Area offices should consult with the regional Airports Division on such matters.

10-6-7. RUNWAY AND TAXIWAY LIGHTS

When required, prepare a facility directive specifying local procedures for the operation of Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL), High Speed Turnoff Lights, or Runway Centerline and Touchdown Zone Light Systems (RCLS TDZL), and forward a copy to the FSDO.

10-6-8. RUNWAY FLOODLIGHTS

Where runway floodlights are installed, local procedures must be established for their operation. These must provide that they be turned off when an aircraft is required to taxi toward the lights and they may be blinding to the pilot. Also, that they must be operated as requested by a pilot for his/her operation.

10-6-9. RUNWAY EDGE LIGHTS ASSOCIATED WITH MEDIUM APPROACH LIGHT SYSTEM/RUNWAY ALIGNMENT INDICATOR LIGHTS

Two MALS/RAIL installations associated with runway edge lights are available. One is a two step brightness MALS and a one step brightness RAIL. The other is a three step brightness MALS and a three step brightness RAIL. The associations with runway edge step settings are shown in the following table. Facility air traffic managers must coordinate with the Technical Operations SMO sector to determine which of the two has been installed and issue a facility directive informing facility personnel. (For intensity settings see TBL 10-6-1.)

TBL 10-6-1
MALSR Step Intensity Settings

Runway Edge Lights

Two Step MALS/One Step RAIL

Three Step MALS/Three Step RAIL

Intensity

Intensity

Intensity

HIRL

MIRL

MALS

RAIL

MALS

RAIL

Step 5

Step 3

100%

100%

100%

100%

Step 4

 

 

100%

100%

100%

Step 3

Step 2

10%

OFF

20%

26% outer
8% inner

Step 2

 

 

OFF

4%

1%

Step 1

Step 1

OFF

OFF

4%

1%

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