Los Angeles-based Teledyne Reynolds Lighting & Display (Booth No. C12443) received FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) approval on July 11 for its Alphabeam II LED aviation lights for business jets, which the company is showing here at NBAA 2013 for the first time. The lights are drop-in replacements for incandescent and halogen lamps and require no modification to the aircraft for installation.
“We received our first PMA for Alphabeam, which covers more than 400 makes and models of general aviation airplanes, in 2010, and for a number of large commercial aircraft–most Boeing jets–last year,” Shannon Princiotto, director of business development, standard products, at Teledyne Reynolds, told AIN. Several domestic and international airlines are flight-testing the Alphabeam II for both taxi and runway turnoff applications.
“The new PMA for business aviation covers all Learjet models, from the 23 to the 60, the Hawker 800 and 1000 and the Gulfstream 100 and 200, along with the Astra SPX,” said Princiotto.
She explained that the company learned from the first PMA approval process of the Alphabeam landing and taxi light for general aviation airplanes, which took 14 months. “We thought doing all the models on one PMA would be more efficient, but it wasn’t. So we are now doing the approvals for commercial and business aircraft in smaller groups and expect to announce more PMAs throughout 2014.”
The Alphabeam II LED landing and recognition lights are specific for business aviation. They use 28-volts DC, operate from -55 to +85-degree C and have a calculated mean time between failure of an amazing 30,000 hours. While the price of LED lighting is high compared to incandescent and halogen lights, the Alphabeam lights don’t have to be replaced nearly as often as other lights, which reduces downtime and labor costs, Princiotto emphasized, adding, “This means that landing light bulbs stop being consumables.”
Another advantage of LED lighting is greater brightness. According to Princiotto, an Alphabeam II landing light illuminates to a distance of 1,500 feet, while an equivalent incandescent landing light reaches only 500 feet. An FAA pilot verified this during flight-testing, she said.
Because LEDs are stronger than incandescent bulbs, Alphabeam II, which uses seven LED bulbs, consumes 60 watts compared to a single incandescent bulb’s 250 watts. “Although a lot of people think LEDs are cool, they actually do generate heat, but out the back, rather than in the front,” she explained. “Therefore, Alphabeam has an aluminum heat shield in the back.” Built-in thermal protection monitors the temperature and decreases power consumption during high-temp conditions.
The relative coolness of the high-impact-glass lens, however, means that the temperature on the outer surface of the Alphabeam landing light does not warm up enough to melt ice. Therefore, Teledyne Reynolds added optically clear heating elements in the glass, “like those in the back windows of cars,” said Princiotto, to make sure the lens stays clear of ice. An automatic control activates the heating element when OAT is below 5 degrees C. When on, the heating element consumes up to 40 additional watts.
If just one of Alphabeam’s seven LED bulbs fails, the other six could still provide good illumination. However, the FAA wants the pilot to know there’s a problem with the landing light. So the agency required that the Alphabeam light go completely dark with the failure of just one LED bulb, as would happen with the failure of the single bulb in an incandescent landing light, Princiotto explained. The same requirement applies to the heating element; if it fails, the Alphabeam turns itself off.
Teledyne Reynolds Lighting & Displays markets Alphabeam primarily through distributers, such as Aircraft Spruce & Specialty.