Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

LRC Selected to Join FAA Centers of Excellence Program
The Lighting Research Center will conduct lighting and LED technology research as part of the Federal Aviation Administrationís Center of Excellence for Airport Technology.
By Jennifer Taylor
Airport and airfield lighting

The Lighting Research Center has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to join its “Centers of Excellence” program. The LRC will conduct lighting research as part of the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology, which focuses on airport structures, pavement materials, wildlife issues, anti-icing, and lighting. Specifically, the LRC will apply its expertise in the areas of solid-state lighting and vision science to provide new lighting solutions that benefit the aviation industry.

The Centers of Excellence program creates partnerships between the FAA, world-class academic institutions, and their industry affiliates to coordinate research and development in areas of aviation technology that are critical to the agency's mission and long-term vision. The program selects academic institutions on a competitive basis for their capabilities in research, leadership, and education.

According to the FAA’s Donald Gallagher, Visual Guidance Program Manager – Airport Safety Technology R&D Section, the LRC will assist the agency and its research divisions through synergistic activities that combine the LRC’s expertise in lighting technologies, applications, and human factors research.

Evaluating solid-state lighting and LEDs for airports and airfields

As part of the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT), the LRC will conduct studies to explore the potential performance and applications of new light source technologies, primarily LEDs, in airport and airfield lighting. The LRC will look at how these new technologies can be applied to light runways, taxiways, approaches, and other areas of the airfield.

According to LRC Director of Research Nadarajah Narendran, Ph.D., who leads the LRC’s Solid-State Lighting Program, the aviation industry can benefit significantly from solid-state lighting technologies, which hold promise for lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance.

For its first project with CEAT, the LRC will develop recommendations and metrics that consider the brightness perception of LED lighting on the airfield. “Performance standards for LED systems based on traditional lighting metrics, such as luminance, are causing problems for viewers,” said Dr. Narendran. As an example, he says a green LED approach light is typically perceived as much brighter and less comfortable to view than an incandescent green light of the same luminance. “A better metric is needed so that LED systems can be produced and used in the field without causing discomfort to pilots,” he said.

The LRC will work with the FAA to conduct psychophysical studies that compare the brightness perception of colored and white LED lighting systems with incandescent lighting systems, which use filters to create colored light. According to John Bullough, Ph.D., a lighting scientist who leads vision and human factors research for transportation applications at the LRC, these results, along with other research, will be used to develop recommendations that the FAA can use in selecting LEDs for airfield lighting.

To learn more about the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) research taking place at the LRC, visit the LRC SSL Web site.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.


Rennselear Polytechnic Institute