New LED airport lighting technology is helping major airports to accomplish these tasks, and German airports have been among the earliest beneficiaries of the cost savings that LED lighting can offer.
Airports in Munich and Hanover are among the first of the German airports to see cost savings from LED lighting. Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss Airport replaced runway, parking lot, and roadway lights with LED lighting systems. This airport expects to reduce its annual electricity consumption by 122,000 kilowatt hours as a result of this retrofit. This reduces the airport’s electrical energy consumption by almost 50%. The airport’s maintenance costs will also decrease accordingly, as those LED’s will not require replacement until after more than 50,000 hours of operation.
Some of the early testing of LED lighting, including cost savings prove-up, occurred at smaller airports such as northern Germany’s Paderborn-Lippstadt airport. That facility ran field tests between 2008 and 2009 in conjunction with an LED airport light manufacturer to verify efficiency, safety, and environmental friendliness. Technicians estimate that the airport could save up to 85% of its energy costs with a complete LED lighting retrofit, while simultaneously reducing servicing and maintenance costs by up to 70%.
The adoption of airport ground lighting on runways and taxiways has cleared many European aviation regulatory hurdles. Safety is a primary consideration in all airport operations. The transition to LED lighting has met some resistance from regulators who have expressed concerns over the ability of airplane pilots to quickly adapt to the light spectrum provided by LED lights, notwithstanding the visibility improvements that are created by that spectrum. Safety studies have dismissed these concerns, however, and have shown that LED runway lighting can actually enhance safety.
Airports in countries that border Germany have taken notice of the benefits that German airports are seeing from LED lights. Austria’s Innsbruck Airport installed LED floodlights, leading to energy savings of almost 70%.
Germany has long been a leader among countries that are seeking to reduce the carbon footprints of their industrial operations. The transition to LED lighting systems by the country’s airport operations serves that interest at the same time as it saves costs and energy consumption. LED lighting systems incorporate no toxic materials that will contaminate landfills, they provide better illumination with lower energy consumption, and generate more effective lighting on runways and taxiways, inside terminals, and in ground operations around airports.