Why not just have only 2 or 3? What's the point of having such a number of different configurations? What's the practical application of each lighting scheme? I mean, do they really help pilots in a different kind of way?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if the source is supposed to show the image but it clearly says at the source that The image could not be loaded $\endgroup$
    – Super
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @FallenUser - I added the source via reverse-search, works fine here. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


The different systems generally have to do with ILS landings and the ability to have the runway in sight. As approach systems have gotten better and our understanding of flight mechanics and general operations has increased the need for different systems has evolved. As new requirements come out and new (generally lower) minimums are allowed different lighting requirements may accompany that but not all airports can always afford to install new lighting (and other related things) as such most regulations allow older systems to stay in place so long as the minimums remain.

In some cases airports simply don't have the physical land at the runway threshold to install larger/longer light systems. In some cases they need to do things like extend out into the ocean to install the lights.

  • $\begingroup$ Small private airports can't afford the huge light displays - runway edge lighting, runway end lighting, and PAPI are pretty common and not that costly. Maybe taxiway lights if you're lucky. No ILS at the smaller airports either. Access to land for installing the larger systems is also a problem. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 16:24

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