Re: Dangerous Aircraft lighting

Date:         28 Aug 97 02:30:42 
From: (Richard Weatherill)
Organization: DRA Malvern, England
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k_ish <> wrote:

>caribb wrote:

>> The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an interesting article
>> concerning the aircraft visability while taxing on airport tarmacs. In
>> effect it talked about how airplanes have not got a standardised
>> lighting system to clearly identify what type of plane they are and
>> what they are doing. [snip]

>IMHO, as a private pilot, this is journalistic sensationalism at its
>best (worst?)!  A few points:


>-  Road vehicles don't have a lighting system to clearly identify what
>type of car they are.  What would be the point?

>-  Major airports have ground radar which aids ground ops especially at
>night and low-visibility.


I certainly agree with the overall thrust of your response to caribb's
posting and with most of the detailed points (which I've snipped),
especially regarding the pilot's own situational awareness.

Of course road vehicles don't have lights for identification purposes
- but then for road traffic management the identity of a specific
vehicle isn't usually important. The identity of an aircraft is,
however, important when controlling a departure stream (for example)
at a busy airport.

Ground radars do help, but most surface movement radars (in Europe at
least) are primary, so identity information is either completely
missing from the controller's screen or present in a very rudimentary
form, having been derived from other sources. At any rate, I'm sure
it's still very useful for a Ground Movements Controller to be able to
take a quick look out of the window to confirm from the fin markings
that an aircraft at a particular position is the one (s)he expected to
see there.

Of course, all this may change before long with the advent of new
technologies, such as ADS-B.

Richard Weatherill