Aircraft warning lights are high-intensity lighting devices constructed to make tall structures appear more visible at all hours. While there is no definitive standard that defines the minimum requirements for the design and installation of obstruction lighting, a majority of warning lights adhere to similar specifications. In fact, the most common regulations are those set forth by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
In the oil and gas industries, there are three primary types of signaling lights used for the extension and height of obstacles, those of which are low intensity type B and medium intensity types A & B warning lights. Type B low intensity warning lights are normally used for buildings with low extension and an above ground height below 148 feet. When type B low intensity obstacle warning lights prove inadequate, medium intensity lights can be used in their place.
Meanwhile, type A and B medium intensity warning lights are utilized when the object has significant extension or a height surpassing 148 feet. The type A variation should be used alone, while type B medium intensity warning lights can be used alone or in combination with type B low intensity warning lights. It is important to note that type B medium intensity warning lights are only activated at night.
Type B medium intensity lights do not need to be turned on during the day as the obstacle will be highlighted by equal length stripes of red/orange and white paint along the object’s length as specified by the ICAO. Furthermore, type A medium intensity lights are meant for illuminating obstacles without ICAO markings. In the daytime, they will remain on at a maximum power of 20,000 cd to cast light upon the obstacle against the daylight background.
Typically, warning lights are positioned as close to the top of an object as possible. For cooling towers or other similar structures, the warning lights should be positioned just below the top to reduce the possibility of smoke contamination. When an obstacle is furnished with type A medium intensity warning lights and the upper portion of the obstacle is more than 344 feet above the ground or taller than the surrounding buildings, additional lights must be provided at spaced out levels.
These additional lights should feature an equal distance between the upper lights and the ground level with the spacing not exceeding 344 feet. Where an obstacle necessitates type B medium intensity warning lights and the upper part of the object is taller than 148 feet or taller than the surrounding buildings, additional lights must be furnished at equally spaced intervals. These additional lights must alternate between type B low intensity and type B medium intensity lights.
The FAA specifies that safety signals should not be interrupted for any reason. More than that, it is common practice to include redundancy into a signaling lamp system. This is where dual systems with a main lamp and an emergency lamp are helpful. Fault management is then managed by the control panel in the aircraft warning light system.
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