Solar Airfield Lighting Helps Keep Airport Open, Retain Jobs

Solar Airfield Lighting Helps Keep Airport Open, Retain Jobs

Solar Airfield Lighting Helps Keep Airport Open, Retain Jobs

Solar Airfield Lighting Helps Keep Airport Open, Retain Jobs

By:Avlite Systems | March 23, 2021
Application: Airfield

AV-426 Solar LED Airfield Light

Location: Southwest Oklahoma
Date: 2021

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The Lawton – Fort Sill Regional Airport (FAA code: LAW) is located in southwest Oklahoma. It features a single runway with parallel taxiway. The airport supports commercial air service from American Eagle Airlines, a regional arm of international carrier American Airlines. The airport also supports military aviation from Fort Sill and Sheppard Air Force Base. The 8600 ft (2.6 km) runway has almost 25,000 annual flight operations. 62% of those flights are military, 30% general aviation, and 8% commercial and air taxi service.

The Challenge

The single runway at Lawton – Fort Sill Airport required crack repair and panel replacement as well as a groundwater drainage system to mitigate future concrete cracking. The rehabilitation project was estimated to take approximately 70 days, requiring closure of the airport’s only runway.

Because the airport is limited to a single runway, runway closure would put the entire airport at risk of closing. American Eagle’s scheduled service would be temporarily canceled, eliminating passenger traffic. The airport’s single Fixed Base Operator (FBO) faced a total loss of revenue from fuel sales and parking.

The airport was faced with the possibility of closing. Passenger traffic was down 70% over the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was critical to maintain an operating runway. To ensure continuity of operations, the shorter, parallel taxiway would serve as the main runway during construction.

Several changes were required so aircraft could use the shorter, temporary runway to keep the airport operational and minimize loss of flight service and revenue. American Eagle had to use smaller aircraft, reducing the number of passengers. Larger, military aircraft would have to be diverted to an alternative airfield until the main runway reopened. Also, only aircraft on visual approach were able to use the temporary runway as the instrument landing system (ILS) would be temporarily disabled. Low cloud cover on overcast days would prohibit commercial operations.

Another requirement for the temporary runway was FAA-compliant airfield lighting. Traditional, wired systems require special equipment to dig trenches and lay electrical cables, increasing project costs and delaying project completion.

The project’s engineering firm, Garver, sought a lighting alternative to meet the FAA requirements and keep Lawton – Ft. Sill Airport open for business during rehabilitation.


The FAA granted Garver a waiver to use energy-efficient, solar LED airfield lighting for the temporary runway lighting. Following a consultative dialog with Avlite distributor, Airside Solutions, Avlite’s AV-426 Solar LED Airfield Lights were quickly and easily installed on rubber tile mounts by the general contractor. Configurations included runway distance remaining (white/yellow), runway edge (white), and runway threshold (red/green) airfield lights.

Avlite’s AV-426 meets the FAA requirements for L-864 per Advisory Circular 150/5345-50B for Portable Runway and Taxiway Lights. The project qualified for funding under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act of 2020.

The versatile, self-contained solar AV-426 has proven its ability around the globe. Solar panels allow for maximum sunlight capture enabling the light to operate for up to 100 hours at maximum intensity without recharging.

Multiple operating modes includes 3-step intensity adjustments. Programmable light groups, using the AvMesh® network, provide operating flexibility, range, and configuration. Wireless RF Control enables air traffic control to activate the entire 5000 ft of runway lighting with the flip of a single switch.

Optional Pilot Activated Lighting Control (PALC) allows pilots on approach to control light operation and intensity. Low, medium and high-intensity modes are activated via a discreet frequency, with a series of VHF clicks. This reliable, proven, lighting control saves electricity, increases airport and tower staffing flexibility, and reduces potential light pollution. The AV-426 can also be used in IR mode to support NVG requirements. Ideal for use in VFR, or non-precision IFR operations, Avlite’s AV-426 was supplied with frangible tile mounts to withstand wind, propeller or jet blasts, and wake vortices.


Under the technical support of Avlite authorized distributor, Airside Solutions, Avlite’s solar AV-426 lights were quickly installed and have been running in automatic dusk-to-dawn mode for over eight, consecutive, wintertime weeks, even with a 13-inch snowfall. The Lawton – Ft. Sill Airport was able to remain fully operational during the runway rehabilitation and construction. Local businesses remained open and retained staff during a critical economic period.

Avlite also offers the AV-70, an L-863 Intertek certified, solar LED taxiway light. Together, Avlite’s AV-70 Taxiway Light and AV-426 Runway/Edge/Threshold Light offer a complete FAA-certified, FAA-compliant airfield lighting solution for larger airport construction or renovation projects.


“Avlite’s solar airfield lighting proved to be a cost-effective solution for temporary runway lighting. It reliably worked through snow, dark winter months, and inclement weather. We’re very pleased with the results for our client.”

— Sean McGraw, Oklahoma Aviation Leader, Garver

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