July / August 2003
Pages 54 and 55
Carmanah, a supplier of solar-powered, self-contained lights for a variety of transportation uses such as railroads and seaports, believes its products can make general aviation airports safer at costs that are unheard of for traditional airfield lighting.
The Victoria, B.C., Canada-based company specializes in solar-powered LED units and has supplied several big airports, including Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles, with construction and barricade lights. But the real opportunity, said Carmanah Business Development Manager Allister Wilmott, could be serving smaller airports that can't pay for traditional hardwired lighting systems.
Last year,Carmanah sold 10 lights to New Knoxville,Ohio's Neil Armstrong Airport, which used them to mark a taxiway edge and a fuel farm. Total cost: about $1,600, or much less than a traditional system would run. "They couldn't afford traditional taxiway edge lights, "Wilmott told Airport Magazine. The high acceptance level by the airport and its users may have opened up a whole new market for the company, which was founded in 1996 with marine applications in mind.
Carmanah's lights have attracted the attention of both FAA and the U.S. military. Recently, FAA and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) put some Carmanah taxiway edge lights to the test. A taxiway at Port of Shelton, Wash., airport was lined with Carmanah lights down one side, and traditional retro-reflective lights down the other. Four small aircraft carrying four people each were taxied in both directions, and the lighting guidance given by each set of markets was noted."The FAA, IES committee and volunteer pilots unanimously found that the solar LED aviation lights provided significantly increased visual guidance, self sufficient illumination on the taxiway corners, exceptional long range and short term lighting cues and overall improved safety," Carmanah said.
Added Wilmott: "The pilots were just blown out of the water, especially when we cornered and the solar LEDs would provide consistent visual guidance." FAA, through its William J. Hughes Technical Center, plans to continue evaluating the solar lights, and has purchased 100 to install at New Jersey's Cross Keys Airport for taxiway lighting tests, Wilmott said. Carmanah estimates that its products - costing from about $150 each to $1,000 each, depending on features like applicability, useful life, and light intensity - are about 10 percent the cost of comparable hard-wired systems. The lights don't use bulbs, last up to 100,000 hours, and use less energy than incandescent lighting, the company said. The units are designed to be installed with no digging, and work with standard frangible couplings. The company's lights are not yet approved for runway and taxiway use at Part 139 airports, but the military has embraced them. The U.S. Army and Air Force used Carmanah lights at several makeshift bases during the recent Iraq war. Stateside, the Air Force has installed them at Elmendorf, Alaska, and Tinker, Texas.
Carmanah's self-contained, solar-powered guide lights have been installed at one civilian airport and several military bases, and FAA plans to test them extensively. To find out more about Carmanah products, please feel free to contact contact Allister Wilmott, Business Development Manager.