Lunar Accents Design is currently developing the first LED aircraft landing light designed for aviation lighting. We are working in conjunction with members of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop this custom LED lighting solution, as well as achieve the appropriate certification. The LED landing light will operate very similar to a traditional aircraft landing light, but will incorporate modern light emitting diodes. Several benefits include increased reliability as well as an extended lifespan. Other aircraft/airfield related lighting applications currently in production include LED position lights (red and green wingtip navigation lights) and LED runway lights (edge markers). However, the LED landing light presents a greater challenge due to restrictive issues with LED efficiency and thermal management. Only recently has LED technology advanced to a point making such an extreme LED lighting application a possibility. Modern LED technologies in conjunction with advanced methods of thermal management account for the primary factors in making this aircraft lighting project a success.
The aircraft landing light is typically located on the wings or nose area of an aircraft. The light serves two primary purposes. The landing light increases aircraft visibly when engaged, which is an important safely feature. Other aircraft as well as tower controllers at the airport can easily identify approaching aircraft by an illuminated landing light. The landing light can also illuminate the runway for a pilot, on final landing approach. Operation of the landing light is generally restricted to take off and landing, and switched off during normal flight. On occasion, the pilot may use the landing light to signal other aircraft while in flight. This method of primitive communication is a simple method used to inform nearby aircraft of each other's positions. One of the major disadvantages associated with the traditional aeronautical landing light is reliability. The inner filament must endure extreme stresses each time the aircraft performs a routine landing. Repetitive stress induced by landings eventually leads to catastrophic failure, and the lighting light bulb requires replacement. This will quickly add up increasing aircraft maintenance costs.
The LED aircraft landing light will endure shock from landings unlike traditional landing lights. In addition, the LED landing light will feature a life expectancy in excess of fifty-thousand hours, similar to most LED tail lights. This will result in unbelievable savings on routine aircraft maintenance. Over time, the LED landing light will effectively pay for itself. Our first revision will feature many new features including a taxi light mode. Taxi light mode will feature a wider beam angle more suitable for airport taxiing procedures, and will illuminate a broader range of airport terrain. Additional modes also include the variable speed strobe function. Although not intended specifically for landing, the strobe function will offer a method of increasing aircraft visibility, while aloft. In addition to these features, the LED aircraft landing light will bring confidence to pilots. Wondering if the landing light has burned out will soon become a worry of the past!
We have dared to confront such a promising challenge upon the successful completion of a similar LED lighting project. Designing and employing aircraft technology is a challenge in it self. The Federal Aviation Administration must certify the LED lighting design; otherwise, the aircraft must be marked "experimental". Another aspect relates to design challenges that would not otherwise exist in a more traditional LED lighting solution. For example, all high power LEDs must dissipate a considerable amount of heat into the surrounding atmosphere. Thermal management becomes a major design issue when designing with any high power LED light. With each one-thousand foot increment above sea level, the atmospheric pressure decreases by approximately one inch of mercury. At higher altitudes, the pressure is much lower; therefore, a fewer number of air molecules become available for heat dissipation originating from the LED lamp. This variable will effectively change the thermal resistance from LED junction to ambient. To complicate matters, the thermal resistance will also vary slightly with varying pressure and density altitudes. Although the primary use of a landing light is generally at lower altitudes, the device must continue to operate properly within any possible atmospheric condition.
Scheduled production of the first LED landing lights may commence as early as August 2008. Early production runs will yield units designed and tested for specific aircraft makes and models. Eventually, the scale of production will expand, increasing compatibility to cover a wider range of aircraft. If you would like additional information on the LED landing light, please register online to receive occasional updates by email. We will send you email from time to time providing updates about the design and production schedule corresponding with this lighting project.