• SJU reference # 47 /Release 5
  • Stakeholders
  • Benefits Environment
  • Status Available for industrialisation/deployment

Airfield ground lighting offers a unique opportunity to guide aircraft and vehicles around the airport. By linking the lighting infrastructure with the taxi route management system, the airport can provide an unambiguous route for the flight crew and vehicle driver to follow.

The solution requires advanced technology within the lights themselves, and in the ramp control tower. The airfield lighting control system needs to turn on the lights ahead of an aircraft, and off immediately behind. To achieve this, taxiway centre line lights are automatically and progressively switched on in segments (or individually) as the aircraft (or the vehicle) moves along its assigned route. Pilots and vehicle drivers receive a single instruction to ‘follow-the-greens’ from air traffic control (ATC). If stop bars are implemented to protect no-go areas, they are also automatically commanded. The solution also relies on the surface movement guidance and control system to provide accurate aircraft position data.

The solution improves the safety of surface operations, especially during low‑visibility conditions, through a reduction of runway incursions, taxi route deviations and holding position overruns. It increases situational awareness and improves the predictability of surface movement through a reduction in the variability of taxi times. The fewer speed changes also result in lower fuel consumption. As taxi speeds are globally increased, apron throughput is improved. SESAR validations used a combination of simulation exercises, shadow-mode trials using vehicles to represent aircraft and several live trials with commercial aircraft. In all cases, the trials  showed that the use of the lighting system can significantly help to reduce taxi times and also reduce the duration of stops during taxiing, improving efficiency. Fewer radio transmissions were required, freeing up controllers’ time for other tasks. Based on more than 650 movements, one of the airports at which the solution was validated recorded a 25 % reduction in taxi time, while radio transmissions fell by the same amount. Clearance delays (the time between the pilot’s push back request and actual clearance) fell by two thirds.

This solution is now implemented in Riga and planned for Zurich, Schiphol and Lisbon airports.

SJU references: #47/ Release 5


  • Improved predictability
  • Enhanced safety
  • Reduced fuel burn, noise and emissions
  • Improved apron throughput