For Immediate Release

June 11, 2009
Contact: Ian Gregor
Phone: (310) 725-3580


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Technology that alerts pilots to potential runway safety hazards is now operating at Los Angeles International Airport thanks to a partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration and the city of Los Angeles.

The system, called Runway Status Lights, uses a series of red lights embedded in the pavement to warn pilots if it’s unsafe to enter or cross a runway, or to take off. Los Angeles World Airports paid for the $7 million system; the FAA installed the system and will maintain it.

"Runway Status Lights are a critical safety enhancement for LAX," said Wes Timmons, the FAA's director of runway safety. "This system has proved that it is highly effective in preventing potentially dangerous runway incidents from occurring."

LAX is the third U.S. airport to get Runway Status Lights following several years of successful tests at Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego. It’s the first airport to have the lights installed on multiple runways.

"With the installation of Runway Status Lights, LAX has established itself ahead of the curve when it comes to passenger safety," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Through partnership with the FAA, Los Angeles will continue to ensure the utmost safety on the LAX airfield."

Runway Status Lights are connected to LAX’s ground radar system. The lights turn red if the ground radar detects a potential conflict between two aircraft or an aircraft and a vehicle. They’re installed on eight LAX taxiways and one runway.

Clearance to cross or enter a runway must be given by air traffic control. When the lights go off, the pilot or vehicle driver must verify the clearance before proceeding.

Runway Status Lights are the latest safety enhancement at LAX. The FAA also recently installed the most technologically advanced ground radar system, known as Airport Surface Detection Equipment-X, or ASDE-X, in the air traffic control tower. ASDE-X collects data from more sources than LAX’s previous ground radar system, and provides air traffic controllers with color map displays showing the location of all aircraft and vehicles on the runways and taxiways.

The FAA also is deploying Runway Status Lights at Atlanta; Baltimore Washington International; Boston; Charlotte; Chicago O’Hare; Denver; Detroit; Washington Dulles; Fort Lauderdale; Houston Intercontinental; New York John F. Kennedy and La Guardia; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Newark; Orlando; Philadelphia; Phoenix and Seattle. These systems are scheduled to be deployed by 2011.

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