Airport apron lighting: five great tips from our latest webinar

Impacting everything from regulatory compliance to passenger experience, apron lighting is something that airport operators need to know that they’re doing right. It’s also a taxing issue to address – one that’s rarely covered by training providers, and there’s little in the way of universal guidance or consistent methodologies to work from.


With this in mind, we thought apron lighting would be the perfect topic for our first Wednesday Webinar of 2022.


Midstream’s Yuli Grig (Commercial Director) and Marco Cavallotti (Project Manager) took attendees joining from across the world through an in-depth look at the current state of play, covering issues including current regulations, the protocols to follow when conducting an audit, and more.


The full recording is available to watch on our website, along with the presentation materials and accompanying Photometric Guide. If you’re looking for a quick summary, or a taster of the full content before diving in, we have you covered.


Here are five of Yuli and Marco’s top tips for apron lighting.


1. The ICAO provides clear guidance on standards, but be mindful of local legislation


Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Aerodrome Design and Operations document provides operators with clear recommendations about the light levels that should be present on an apron. Horizontal illuminance should be 20 lux, with a uniformity ratio of no more than 4:1, and vertical illuminance at 20 lux two metres above the apron.


As helpful as these recommendations are, they are just that: recommendations. Specific legislation does also exist for different territories, and operators should ensure that their environment is compliant with local jurisdictions first and foremost. In North America, the guiding document is IES RP-37-15, airports in the EU should work to the Commission Regulation No 139/2014, and those in the UK must conform with the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) CAP 168.


2. A little preparation can help to maximise the effectiveness of an audit


With tests needing to be taken at night, and on a clear stand, operators are understandably keen to ensure that a lighting audit can be completed as swiftly as possible. Nevertheless, measuring an apron’s lighting levels is a time consuming process – one that needs to be carried out properly to deliver accurate results.


Midstream’s own experiences here lead us to two recommendations. Firstly, the CAA’s approach of using 15 measuring points for small stands, and 25 for large ones, produces perfectly valid results. Secondly, operators should ensure that they secure the area that is going to be measured. Not only does that help from both a health and safety and efficiency perspective, it also ensures that shadows from planes and air bridges don’t interfere with readings.


3. Standards apply to illuminance grids, too


When measuring or designing a lighting solution, an illuminance grid is used to calculate two things: average overall illuminance, and the uniformity of illuminance in the working area, surrounding areas, and the periphery. Essentially, it helps to show how effective an operator’s lighting is across the entire area being audited – in this case, the apron.


As with lighting levels, illuminance grids also follow certain standards. In the EU, these are laid out in document BS EN 12464-1:2021 – a European Standard that governs the lighting of indoor and outdoor work environments. While EN 12464 does offer clear guidance on the dimensions and ratios that should be used, this is an area in which any qualified lighting provider should be able to offer their expertise.


4. Some basic rules should be followed when taking readings


Simple – but nonetheless important – differences need to be taken into account when switching between horizontal and vertical light readings. For horizontal readings, the lux meter should be placed flat on the ground – or, 0m above the apron from a technical standpoint. The notable exception here is at military sites, where it is sometimes recommended to take horizontal readings at 2m above the apron.


Two metres is also the recommend height for vertical readings in both commercial and military environments. As a result, a tripod should be used to ensure that the meter remains stable while readings are taken. One other consideration here is that the lux meter should be left for around five seconds before taking a reading, to ensure that it gives an accurate measurement. Be sure not to cast a shadow on the receptor, too.


5. Common mistakes can be easily avoided once you’re aware of them


Even simple mistakes when measuring light levels can have a big impact on the effectiveness of the final design. As a result, it’s crucial to ensure that the readings given are accurate. A few basic things to watch out for here include:

  • Measuring an apron area that includes multiple stands. Standards require that each stand is measured individually.
  • Confusing “minimum” and “minimum average” levels. These are different things, and requirements are based upon the latter value.
  • Ignoring uniformity values. A stand may pass based on its average illuminance values, only to fail when assessed for uniformity.

For more on all of the above, as well as detailed guidance on where and how to take light readings and how to select the correct stand category, check out the full recording below.

See more about Aviation Lighting Solutions

Upgrading to LED Floodlights using existing Masts: Considerations

Enhancing the sustainability of apron lighting systems: a simple guide for procurement officers

Do we need to change our electrics or cabling for LED floodlights?

See More From These Topics

Share this entry