DOT IG: Runway Status Lights Reduce Incursions

 - January 17, 2008, 10:15 AM

In a report released this week, the DOT Inspector General has found that runway status lights (RWSL) are “a viable technology” for preventing runway incursions. However, it said this technology is still in the early stages of implementation, meaning much work remains before the FAA can achieve full deployment. RWSL uses runway and taxiway centerline illuminated lights to warn pilots of potential runway conflicts and prompt them to notify the tower before proceeding if a contradicting clearance has been issued. Essential attributes of RWSL include timely warnings of potential conflicts, automated information and no interference with air traffic operations. During operational evaluation trials at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW), the IG report said, “RWSL met or exceeded all performance criteria specified in the RWSL Research Management Plan. In addition, all system users we met with at DFW agreed that RWSL works as intended and has no known negative impact on capacity, communication or safety.” Further, runway incursions on the test runway (18L/36R) at DFW decreased by 70 percent after RWSL was installed. During the 29 months before testing, 10 runway incursions occurred at DFW; during the 29 months after testing (March 1, 2005, through July 31, 2007), only three occurred.