Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center Receives FAA Grant To Improve Visual Guidance and Airport Lighting Maintenance

October 13, 2022

Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center Receives FAA Grant To Improve Visual Guidance and Airport Lighting Maintenance

$1.125 million grant supports research to help U.S. airports and airfields to improve energy-efficient LED lighting for navigation

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has been awarded $1.125 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a three-year research effort to improve the visibility, efficiency, and reliability of air traffic and navigation in the United States.

During the next three years, LRC research will focus on investigating a novel photometer that is mounted to an unmanned aircraft system that can identify airport lights that need replacement; developing test methods and models that can estimate the useful lifetime of LED light fixtures in different geographic regions within the U.S.; studying the feasibility of using 3D-printed optics in airport light fixtures to properly direct the lights and improve pilots’ visibility; and identifying the proper ways to light visual guides by conducting human factors research and determining the necessary light levels that will improve the conspicuity of the lighted visual guides.

“The LRC’s research has done much to improve the visibility and reliability of airport visual guidance systems while improving the energy-efficiency of lighting at U.S. airports and airfields,” said Dr. Nadarajah Narendran, director of LRC research and one of the project’s principal investigators (PI). “As a result, the FAA has used the LRC’s research to update its official requirements and procedures for selecting, installing, and maintaining lighting on runways, taxiways, and other parts of the airfield.”

For more than 15 years, the LRC has worked closely with the FAA to conduct lighting research that supports the transition of U.S. airports and airfields to energy-efficient LED lighting. This support has ranged from researching the visual needs of pilots for accurately identifying signals and signs used in airport visual guidance applications to assessing technologies that can aid in the development and deployment of new lighting systems and photometric testing methods.

Joining Dr. Narendran in this research are co-PIs Jean Paul Freyssinier, LRC senior research scientist, and Dr. Indika Perera, LRC research scientist.

“I think this impressive award from the FAA is a testament to the LRC’s exceptional reputation as one of the foremost leaders in the world today regarding LED lighting,” said Evan Douglis, Dean of the School of Architecture, which is home to the LRC. “Their widespread success applying theory to practice continues to be recognized on an international stage.”


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