The Reason Aircrafts Can Land Safely at Night – Follow the Greens

If you have ever been to an airport late at night, you probably have wondered how aircrafts could find their paths on the dark runway at night.

Today, let’s discuss Follow the Greens (FTGs), an aeronautical lighting system that assists the safe movement of aircrafts on the ground. We’ll also talk about Incheon Airport’s ground lighting control station, which manages FTGs, and the control system that supports ground operations. Lastly, we will introduce the current standards of the aeronautical lighting facilities of Incheon Airport!

How do aircrafts find their way?

How do aircrafts safely land and depart without trouble at night? This is made possible thanks to “ground lighting,” which assists the navigation of aircrafts using lights, colors, and shapes. Lamps with a variety of glowing lights are mainly used to lead the way. There is also the approach lighting system which are lights that are installed every 30 meters along the runway to announce the angle between the aircraft and the ground. Incheon Airport’s control tower tells pilots which path to take along with these signals.

As a matter of fact, until earlier this year, air-traffic controllers had to explain to the name of each taxiway and each point at which to make a left or right turn. With this system, pilots had to perfectly everything about each airport. Sometimes, they would confuse two airports and enter the wrong taxiway.

To improve this point, Incheon Airport was the world’s first airport to apply the FTGs system, attracting a lot of attention. Let’s look into the details of this system.

What is Follow the Greens?

Before the breakout of the COVID-19, over a thousand commercial flights flew in and out of Incheon Airport each day. It was most of the utmost importance that these flights safely landed on the ground and moved in the right direction without any confusion.

The FTGs, which was introduced to assist such a process, is a guidance and control system that uses ground lighting. Before this system was introduced, pilots found their paths through the names of the taxiways. Starting in the month of April of this year, this system was switched to individual ground lighting guidance and control. In other words, aircrafts’ pathways were now shown through a state-of-the-art ground lighting system. These pathways are indicated with green lights, which is how it got its name, “Follow the Greens.”

The biggest advantage of FTGs is that it visually provides pathways on the taxiways. They really help aircrafts operate safely. In April of this year, the results of four-month trial operation of the system were also released. It was reported that the probability of an aircraft going down the wrong taxiway dropped by 77%.

This is good news for pilots, too. Communication about paths of movement has become more efficient, allowing pilots to move without hesitation. There are no limitations in low-visibility situations, such as at nighttime, on foggy days, and in sea fog. The Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) introduced at Incheon Airport has improved from Level 4 to Level 4.5, the world’s highest international level!

What is the ground lighting control station?

Proper maintenance of FTGs is essential. Incheon Airport boasts a system that can control over 30,000 lights on the ground. The ground lighting control station can be called the control tower of ground lighting.

The individual aeronautical lighting control system is operated from here. Each lighting system can be monitored from this control room to see whether they are working properly. Incheon Airport is a large airport, making it rather challenging for workers to personally inspect each facility one by one. This is why it is essential to have a system that can check and replace malfunctioning ground lights every day. Furthermore, the management of all flights, including the vehicles, towing, and flight schedule, is done here.

How did the control tower change?

The air-traffic controller is the person who helps an aircraft safely fly all the way to its destination. They can be called the “traffic police of the sky.” These people are stationed in the control tower!

The control tower of Incheon Airport that was refurbished three years ago is the tallest symbolic building of the airport. Over a thousand flights are controlled from here, as of 2017.

Incheon Airport is the only Korean airport in which the control duties are divided between the airport apron, runway, and taxiway areas. The role of the air-traffic controller is growing with the increasing number of flights and air traffic in Korea. Now, with the FTGs, their jobs can be done more efficiently!

The reason aircrafts can move safely and quickly on large runways is the outcome of a collaboration between the cutting-edge FTGs, ground lighting control stations, and the control tower. To see more related information, follow the link below to connect to Incheon Airport’s YouTube channel.😊

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