Visual Guidance

Since the early 1960's, the Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center has been a leader in the development of new visual guidance systems. Their research and development activities have involved runway and taxiway lighting, obstruction lighting, distance-to-go markers, painted markers, Runway Status Lights, Runway Safety Area Signage and other aids.

Beginning in the early 2000’s a new light source, using energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED), has been implemented on airfields resulting in improved visual cues for pilots and ground vehicle operators.  Since that time, the Visual Guidance Program has conducted numerous research projects to aid in the transition from the over 60 year old incandescent lighting to LED lighting for use on airports. While no safety issues have been documented, research has been conducted relating to reports of Brightness and Glare to reports of LED Flickering and adjustments were implemented to remedy the issues.



Because of these early anecdotal reports and subsequent research performed to resolve the issues, In March, 2016, the FAA Airport Safety Research and Development Branch tasked an Analyst to perform a search of the FAA safety database to determine if reports could be found regarding LEDs at airports.  The sources for this database included the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Aviation Accident and Incident Data System, and the FAA Accident and Incident Data Systems (AIDS).  The time period studied was October 1, 2005 through February, 2016. The purpose of this research effort is to determine the prevalence of LED-related incidents, accidents, and safety concerns reported in recent years throughout the National Airspace System.


The databases contained a total of 88,056 reports for the time period October 1, 2005 through February, 2016.  Of these reports, 22 made mention of concerns about LED lighting, excessive brightness of lights, or other similar lighting issues. The number of reports and incidents of LED lighting issues have been low in number to date; however, the FAA will continue tracking this issue to ensure safety is maintained going forward.



CSA Visual Aids Handbook


Contact Project Lead  Nick Subbotin

Last Update:12/06/16