Canadian Consulting Engineer

Nanaimo Airport Lighting Upgrade

anaimo Airport on the east coast of B.C's Vancouver Island is being expanded to increase its ability to handle long-haul flights. Part of phase 1 included extending the runway by 0.3 miles (487 metres) to the north, and installing new...

March 1, 2011   By Associated Engineering

anaimo Airport on the east coast of B.C’s Vancouver Island is being expanded to increase its ability to handle long-haul flights. Part of phase 1 included extending the runway by 0.3 miles (487 metres) to the north, and installing new technologies so that aircraft can arrive and depart in all but the worst weather conditions.

Associated Engineering was responsible for the electrical upgrade, which included new runway lighting and a new instrument landing navigation system. The new systems lowered the approach limits from a 652-ft. cloud ceiling and 2¼ mile visibility to a 503-ft. ceiling and 1½ mile visibility for general aviation. For commercial aircraft, the new limits are a 338 ft. ceiling and 1 mile visibility.

The upgrades included the installation of high intensity approach and runway lights, as well as runway guard lights on all taxiways leading to the runway. Also required were dual circuited (interleaved) runway edge lights so that the loss of a circuit does not extinguish all lights and leave a pilot without visual reference of the runway.

A new high intensity Simplified Short Approach Lights System (SSALS) was introduced — a first in Canada. This new approach lighting system was just being recognized by Transport Canada.

High intensity lighting systems are brightness-controlled to five levels representing 0.2%, 1.0%, 5%, 25% or 100% of the required effective candela output of the lamps (150-watt halogen). The lights are controlled via five-step constant current regulators (CCRs). After hours the lights are controlled by the pilots’ radios, to three brightness levels.

The challenge was providing the back-up power. Transport Canada’s requirements for operation in reduced visibility means that the power system has to be capable of restoring power to the runway lights within 1 second of a power failure.

Typically to meet this requirement the back-up generator is started and power is transferred to it from the hydro supply. Smaller airports tend to share the generator between the airfield lighting system and the essential power requirements of the air terminal building. However, there are problems with this arrangement, partly because during a reduced visibility event only electrical loads on the Essential Power panels will operate, which creates power outages in the terminal building. This is a new challenge at regional airports, since the reduced visibility departure regulations have only recently been introduced.

Associated Engineering’s pioneering solution involved the first use of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for airfield lighting systems at a regional airport in Canada. The UPS provides power to the runway edge light CCRs to keep them powered for up to 15 minutes in the event of the loss of Normal or Essential power sources. UPS is a simple and practical way to meet the requirements of Transport Canada, which is otherwise very difficult to do, particularly at an airport that is not controlled at night. cce

Client:Nanaimo Airport Commission

Electrical consultant:

Associated Engineering (Doug Falkins Eng.L.)

Other key consultants: McElhanney (project management, civil); EBA (geotechnical, environmental, materials).


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