Runway Status Lights


Runway Status Lights are an essential FAA system embedded in the pavement of runways and taxiway, designed to automatically signal pilots and vehicle operators when it is unsafe to enter, cross, or begin takeoff. These lights, which are operational at 20 airports across the US, turn red in response to traffic, providing direct, immediate alerts without the need for input from controllers. The system uses complex software algorithms and adjustable parameters to process the Airport Surface Surveillance data and control the airfield lights in accordance with Air Traffic operations, including anticipated separation. The Runway Status Lights system integrates airport lighting equipment with approach and surface surveillance systems to offer visual signals to indicate safety hazards on runways. It includes Runway Entrance Lights (RELs), which signal to aircraft crossing or entering the runway from intersecting taxiways, and Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs), which signal to aircraft in position for takeoff, both of which are critical to maintaining safety and efficiency on the airfield.

  • Runway Entrance Lights (RELs): provide signal to aircraft crossing entering runway from intersecting taxiway.
  • Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs): provide signal to aircraft in position for takeoff.

Production Sites 

Runway Status Lights is a fully automatic, advisory system designed to reduce the number and severity of runway incursions and prevent runway accidents while not interfering with airport operations. It is designed to be compatible with existing procedures and is comprised of Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) and Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs).

The FAA developed Runway Status Lights as part of an ongoing effort to explore new technologies. The system aims to improve air crew and vehicle operator situational awareness through accurate and timely indication of runway usage.

Runway Status Light systems are commissioned at twenty US airports as shown below:




Last updated: Friday, February 2, 2024