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Helipad Lighting

SP-401 – TLOF helipad LIGHT

SP-401 aviation light is key element of solar helipad lighting. This intelligent lighting unit is solar-powered and wirelessly controlled. ICAO-compliant optics generates correct light output in terms of intensity and chromaticity.

SP-401 is powered by deep-cycle battery that can be powered by solar panel, charging stations or stationary cable. Standard lighting unit is equipped with external military-grad external charging port. Separately installed solar-panel supported by maximum power point tracking ensures high-speed charging.

Encoded wireless control and monitoring of the lighting unit is using radio transceiver and sensitive antenna. Lighting unit is equipped with external switch and battery level indicator. Those two are used mainly as a backup. Frangible mounting is used to fix SP-401 to concrete or asphalt surface.

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TLOF zone lights

The lighting used at helipads needs to meet an array of requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The safety of night flight operations depends on the lighting. Since LED lightbulbs started to be used, there’s been a revelation in airport and helipad lighting thanks to the use of solar lighting. Stay with us and find out what it was all about. Today, we want to elaborate on helipad solar lighting – TLOF zone lights.

Airport solar lighting– not only in case of a malfunction

Before LED lights were introduced to the market, airport solar lighting was used as an emergency solution – in case of the main system malfunctions or temporarily – for instance, during maintenance works of the main system. LED lamps not only work very long (will be discussed in more detail later) but also allow for the proper light intensity. Thanks to that, solar lighting started to be implemented as a permanent lighting solution at some airports and helipads.

Helipads – zones

One can notice a few different zones designated within a helipad. Among them, the most important are the TLOF area (located in the central landing area) and the FATO zone that surrounds TLOF. TLOF refers to Touchdown and Lift-off area. FATO means Final Approach and Take-off zone. Both the zones can be in the shape of a circle, rectangle or square.

Helipad lighting

Helipads that carry out night operations need to be properly illuminated. Not all of the helipads are equipped with a full set of lights but the following areas must be illuminated obligatorily: The FATO zone, TLOF area, wind direction indicator and taxiway.

TLOF zone lights

At least four green and omnidirectional lights are used to mark the TLOF area. If the area is in the shape of a square or rectangle, the lights need to be placed in the corners primarily. The distance between the lights depends on a helipad type. It is 3 meters for lifted helipads and 5 meters for ground helipads. The lamp cases cannot stick out above the helipad surface for more than 25 meters. If there is a threat of a collision with a helicopter, they need to be installed flat with the surface.

The optics of TLOF zone lighting

A fully-charged solar lamp will work for up to 85 hours if it is using its lowest-intensity level. If it is working in a maximum-intensity mode, the lamp will sustain 25 hours of work. The lifetime of LED lamps reaches 50 000 hours. Also, the lamps are equipped with an exchangeable optic warhead.

Resistance to external conditions

One needs to notice that the lamps used at helipads are highly exposed to external conditions influences. Therefore, they need to meet special requirements:

  1. Water resistance (IP-65 level),
  2. UV resistance,
  3. Extreme temperature resistance.

We should stop at this point for a moment. The standard lamps used at the TLOF zone can withstand temperatures from -20°C to 50°C. However, the so-called arctic set can work in temperatures from -40°C to 80°C.

Charging options

When it comes to solar lighting (especially airport solar lighting where reliability is of primary importance), this one question always arises: what if there are bad-weather conditions? The newest solutions prove that the weather is not a problem anymore. Helipad lighting (including TLOF zone lights) can be charged in three independent ways. The first one is, of course, a solar battery. If needed, the lamps can also be charged by a charging station that is included in the lighting set. Finally, each lamp can be charged with an electric power grid.

Control and monitoring

Both control and monitoring of TLOF solar lighting can be handled remotely. The range of the remote control is 3 kilometers, and it can be optionally extended. It is possible to control the lighting both from the air and from the ground. Either a pilot or an airport crew member can be the operator. The system is equipped with an emergency on/off switch and an automatic light intensity control system. It adjusts the light intensity level if the battery level is low.

Parameters – compatibility with regulations and norms

Both the parameters and the way the TLOF lights should be installed are determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Annex 14. Moreover, the lighting used all across the European Union needs to meet additional norms: EN 61000-4-2:2009, EN 61000-4-3:2007/A2:2011, PN-EN 61000-4-4:2013-05, EN 61000-4-5:2014-10, EN 61000-4-6: 2014-04.

SP-401 – Final Approach and Take-Off area LIGHT

SP-401 FATO light is a key element of solar heliport lighting system. This is a solar-powered intelligent wirelessly controlled helipad light. ICAO-compliant LED optics generates correct light output in terms of intensity and chromaticity. It is NVG compatible LED helipad lights which is often required by military customers.

SP-401 aviation light is powered by a standard deep-cycle battery which can be stored locally. Separately installed solar-panel supported by maximum power point tracking ensures high-speed charging.

KEY FEATURES

  • Wireless control
  • Supports Visual & NVG operations
  • Adjustable intensity level (10%, 30%, 100%)
  • Multiple operating modes (steady, flashing)
  • User-replaceable battery
  • Interchangeable optical head
  • Quick & Easy Deployment
  • Polymer composite body
  • IP-65 waterproof rating

Standard lighting unit is equipped with external military-grad charging port. Separately installed solar-panel supported by maximum power point tracking ensures high-speed charging.

Encoded wireless control and monitoring of the lighting unit is using radio transceiver and sensitive antennat. Lighting unit is equipped with external switch and battery level indicator. Those two are used mainly as a backup. Frangible mounting is used to fix SP-401 to concrete or asphalt surface.

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Helipad FATO lights

Helipads are often located in hard-to-reach places where electricity supply is hindered or there is no electricity at all. In such cases, solar lighting works out perfectly. It does not require electricity, and a fully-charged battery can sustain long hours of work. The reliability of such lighting, in line with low maintenance costs and easy installation, make it a good temporary or permanent lighting solution. In the following parts of this article, helipad solar lighting – FATO lights will be presented.

FATO area

The FATO area refers to Final Approach and Take – off area. It is in the shape of a circle, square or rectangle; TLOF zone is designated within this area. This refers to Touchdown and Lift – off area, but it is going to be explained in greater detail some other time. The regulations say that the FATO area should be at least 1.5 times longer than the length of a helicopter. If a helipad is meant for night operations, the following zones should be illuminated: the FATO area, TLOF zone, taxiway and wind direction indicator.

FATO area lighting

The final approach and take-off area needs to consist of at least four white lights which are omnidirectional and give out a 100-candela-intensity (cd) light. They are installed at equal intervals, and the distance between particular lights should not exceed 50 meters. If FATO is dimetric, the lights are put in the corners primarily. Light cases cannot stick out above the helipad surface more than 25 centimeters. Furthermore, if there is a collision threat, they should be installed flat with the surface.

Helipad solar lighting

As mentioned in the introduction, solar lighting is used in places (but not only) with hindered electricity access. Does it do its job equally well as a conventional lighting? Is it as reliable? How does it work and what makes it special? Let’s provide answers to these questions.

FATO area solar lighting

The lights used for FATO lighting are a key element of the entire system. Just like all of the lights used in aviation, FATO lights need to meet the ICAO regulations (International Civil Aviation Organization). Moreover, the use of LED lights allows for the proper chromaticity and intensity. Also, they are compatible with night vision devices so they can be used by military helipads too. The best FATO lights can be powered by three independent power sources (a solar battery, charging station, electric current).

The most important features of FATO area lighting

Helipad lighting, including FATO zone lighting, is exposed to many external factors so it needs to meet an array of requirements (some of them are optional but recommended):

  1. Light-intensity regulation options: 10%, 30% and 100%,
  2. Two work modes: constant and flashing,
  3. Night vision devices compatibility,
  4. Exchangeable optical warheads,
  5. Remote control,
  6. Battery exchange that can be handled by the user,
  7. Quick and easy exchange,
  8. IP – 65 water resistance,
  9. UV resistance,
  10. Fragile mounting, which will break in the event of a collision and prevent aircraft damage,
  11. Compatibility with ICAO, Annex 14 regulations

The lights’ resistance to extreme temperatures

Special attention should be paid to solar lights’ (including FATO lights’) resistance to extreme temperatures. Standard lights can work in temperatures between -20°C to 50°C. Special lights are capable of working in temperatures from -40°C to 80°C.

Examples of FATO area lighting

Talking about Helipads’FATO solar lighting, one should take a closer look at a particular example of such a light. How long can it work after being fully-charged? What is the lifetime of the lightbulbs, and what protection does it include? Let’s see!

  • The minimum-intensity mode work time: 85 hours
  • The maximum-intensity work time: 25 hours
  • LED lightbulbs’ lifetime – 50 000 hours
  • Charging options: solar panel, charging station, electric current
  • Prevention from overcharging and complete discharging.

FATO lights control and monitoring

FATO solar lights can be controlled remotely both from the ground or the air. A pilot can also be the operator. Wireless range is 3 kilometers, and it can be extended if needed. Moreover, the system provides an automatic lights control and an emergency on/off switch.

European requirements

Solar lights used for Helipads’ FATO area lighting in Europe must meet the following requirements: EN 61000-4-2:2009, EN 61000-4-3:2007/A2:2011, PN-EN 61000-4-4:2013-05, EN 61000-4-5:2014-10, EN 61000-4-6: 2014-04