The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Runway Status Lights (RWSL), the first technology to provide direct warning to pilots about potential runway conflicts, is now operational at all 20 sites approved to receive the ground-breaking technology.

A report on the effectiveness of RWSL at the 15 airports where it was operational in 2017 found an overall 52% reduction in the average runway incursion rate, with 15,484 potential saves by the technology.

The FAA developed RWSL technology to increase situational awareness for flight crews and airport vehicle drivers, providing an added layer of runway safety. The technology alerts pilots and vehicle operators to stop when runways and taxiways are not safe to enter, cross or begin takeoff. Red lights embedded in the pavement illuminate when the presence of other traffic creates a potential conflict. RWSL uses the airports surface surveillance system to determine the location of aircraft and vehicles. The lights are fully automated, requiring no input from air traffic controllers.

Pilots and ground vehicle operators must still receive clearances from controllers for any operation on runways or taxiways.

The RWSL system is comprised of two types of lights. Runway Entrance Lights (REL) are deployed at taxiway and runway crossings and illuminate if it is unsafe to enter or cross a runway. Takeoff Hold Lights (THL) are deployed in the runway by the departure hold zone and illuminate when there is an aircraft in position for departure and the runway is occupied by another aircraft or vehicle and is unsafe for takeoff.

RWSLs are now operational at the following airports:

  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Chicago OHare International Airport
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  • Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport
  • Houstons George Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • LaGuardia International Airport
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
  • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • San Diego International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Washington Dulles International Airport