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Kidjudge's Blog

Inspecting Approach Lights

  • April 12, 2018
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On your inspection do you check the Runway Approach lights on every lighting inspection? Does your inspector require this? I have worked at a number of major airports and never had to do this.

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Are you required to check the Approach lights on your inspection
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I reaize that this is a little late but I wanted to say that there is no requirement that the airport operator inspect the approach lighting systems owned by the FAA.  While it is encouraged that the airport operator report to the FAA (Tech Ops or AT) if they see a  problem with the ALS, it is not a Part 139 requirement.  I would also encourage the airport to document on its self-inspection form, that a report was made to the FAA just for CYA purposes.  This is the information that I give to the participants of the the ASOS schools that I conduct.

Update, from one of my collegues still in the fray, I was advised that FAA Tech Ops has recently implemented a proactive inspection program for all FAA owned ALS.  I do not have all the detials, but there is now at least an FAA inspection taking place once every six months.  I stand corrected!  Be Safe!

Kidjudge, yes that would be a partially acceptalbe option, if the police or other entity inspecting were trained on what meets the criteria for the particuar part 139 inspection item.  Additionally, it was my experience Tech Ops rarely conducted any type of proactive inspections, but only made repairs when needed, there was little or no proactive inspections conducted by Tech Ops druing my tenure, but that may have changed after my retirement.  Those personnel trained to conduct those inspections, you note, would requrie a training record and those records would need to be maintained similar to the other required recordkeeping required by part 139.  Be Safe!

Downtown49 Thank you for peoviding some insight on this topic at my airport our ALS system extends outside out fence and in fact one of of towers are in the middle of an expressway. I have heard from other airports that tech ops inspects this system and just reports to us anything that is wrong with the system. At another airport I worked at we did not do perimeter inspections we had the airport police do it for us and they just reported to us. So all that is to say that we as the operator can dictate others to do the inspection for us "Fueling (ARFF) Perimeter(Airport Police)" as long as we monitor that

Evryone, Ok, I have received some additonal informatilon off line and I conducrted some additional research, I may have to amend (my) regulatory interpretation.   Seems there is no "specific" part 139 regulatory requirement other than, "the airport must inspect" (non-owned ALS) but does not specify, daily, weekly, continuiously or monthly.  FAA Order 5280.5D, the ACSI Inspection Order indicates the ACSI will insure the ALS are inspected.  Order 5280.5D is an internal order and not regulatory, so although it indicates the airport operator will inspect, it seems this is something that will be negotiated between the airport operator and the ACSI.  Beyond this, it appears the FAA Airport Division has allowed this vague guidance to go unaddressed.  Additionally, there is no CertAlert or Advisory Circular that addresse this subject as well.  So, this may be one of those items that is either ignored by the regions or the regions have individually decided how they will address the ALS inspecions.  I tend to lean towards safety and as such the inspection of the ALS, although they may not be owned by the airport operator, how could an airport operator feign a safety culture and not insure the ALS are reflecting their designed lighting.....thank you for your understanding.  Be Safe

mcwops, Just curious, you indicate you give them a quick glance during the night inspection, but are these lighting systems annotated on the airports daily/nightly insepction form?  It sounds like they are, but the wording made me ask myself the question.  The absence of multiple responses, from other Ops folks, makes me think there is some head scratching going on...and questions going about this subject.  Grins!.  Be Safe


For larger, more complicated, the ALS it may be more difficult to see, but for our standard MALS and MALSR we can see all of the lights from the runway threshold and tell if they are indeed working or not.  We usually give ours a quick glance during our night inspection, as well as making sure they cycle properly with the PCL.

Kidgjudge,  I did not want to let this thread end without some follow. One thought to keep in mind during any part 139 insepction is the FAA Inspector may not address each and every inspection item required by Part 139/ACM.  If every area (required by part 139) was inspected, reviewed, questions asked and/or tested, every airport inspection would take many more days or in some cases a week or more.  Also, at the beginning of the inspection season FAA Airports headquarters or the regional office may implement "focused" inspections on certain items, based perhaps on an airport operators passed non-compliacne and/or FAA National Aiport initiatives for the inspection year. My experince, over ten years in the Airport Safety & Operations office (reviewing all nine regions airport inspection reoports) and my own airport inspections, I was never aware of a single complete part 139 insepction at any Part 139 certificated airport across the nine regions.  In retrospect, the only "exception" would be an airport operator making there initial application for a Part 139 certificate.  The initial application for a Part 139 certificated would be the "soup to nuts" inspection. Your thoughts?  Be Safe!

Kidjudge, If you refer to139.311, Marking, signs, and lighting (a)(5) Instrument Landing system, the APL is part of this ILS system.  Whether or not other airports are complying or inspecting is no longer in my wheelhouse, but if a certificated airport is not conducting this insepction and reporting discrepancies to the FAA, then IMHO, the airport operator is not providing the full level of safety required by the regulaiton and a full measure of aviation safety to the flying public.  The how to inspect is the responsibility of the airport operator.  Be Safe!

Kidjudge,  Just as a follow up to my previous post, please refer to FAA Order 5280.5D, date 11/07/2016, page 4-23, item #20.  This is what the ACSI is supposed to do regarding approach lightening systems (no owned by the airport operator) and discussing what the airport operator must do relative to the daily insepction of the ALS.  If the inspectors at your other airport were not follwoing through, then this cite should be helpful.  Be Safe!!!

For some reason I can not see ORD MIA JFK or ATL doing this everyday for every runway . There must be a better way to do this. 

How do you throughly inspect the system if most of it is off property and in heavily wooded areas?

KIDjudge, Absolutely, the approach lights, though normally owned by the FAA, are requried to be inspected as part of your daily inspection and you must notify (documented) the FAA of any outages.  This issue has gone back many years, it is part of the airport's lighting, signing and marking requirments under part 139.  Those airports you may have worked at before shoud be notified.  Also, this inspection must be included in the airport's ACM.  How is it possible to operate your airport safely if the approach lighgitng system is not operating as designed?  This is part of operating your airport safely.  Be Safe!

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