Is there any way to identify whether an airport has PAPI lights (2-light or 4 light system, doesn't matter)?

I am working on some map generation and using aerial images to identify PAPI lights for airports. I was wondering if there is any quicker way to identify visual whether PAPI lights exisit on airport runways.


2 Answers 2


Whether an airport has PAPI lights or not is indicated on the approach charts. For instance on this chart, there is a schematic of the airport at the bottom of page 3 that shows you where the PAPI is on the airfield.

If you are looking for airports in France, you can find all visual approach charts on the government website. Otherwise, this wiki has various links to approach chart ressources.

Edit: If there is not indication concerning the location of the PAPI on the approach chart, you can refer to page 40 of this FAA document concerning visual aids. The schematic here describes the standard location of the PAPI relatively to the strip.

  • $\begingroup$ yeah but does an approach chart always tell you where the papi light is on the diagrams? I have Jeppesen charts which tells me that there is PAPI, but doesn't tell me where it is actually placed (roughly) on the runways. $\endgroup$
    – ha9u63a7
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @hagubear The PAPI is (based on the ICAO standard) 15 meters from the runway edge. Most often, it is on the left side, but may be placed on the right for practical purposes. Since it indicates an approach path, it must coincide with the glide slope, so the PAPI isn't very far from where the wheels should touch the ground. Keeping these things in mind, you should be able to easily find the PAPI even if its exact location isn't on the map. $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ Since you already mentioned FlightGear; they also have the data file from which they generate the basic airport layouts. That should contain the information too. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @usernumber It's more accurate to say "The PAPI (or any other VGSI) must coincide with A glidepath" - it doesn't always match the ILS or GPS glidepath, and when it doesn't the approach plates will warn you about that. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:53

For airports in the USA, I'd look in the Chart Supplement (formerly known as the Airport/Facility Directory). It lists characteristics of each runway, including lighting. Here's one for KEAU, where I did my primary flight training:

RWY 22: MALSR. PAPI(P4L)—GA 3.0º TCH 50´. 0.6% down.

Note that this runway has a 4-light PAPI on the left side of the runway. From the legend:

P4L 4–identical light units placed on left side of runway
  • $\begingroup$ I know about the glidescope and localiser readings and they are pretty standard globally (50' TDZ, 3-3.6 DEG glideslope). I was interested in knowing visually where the PAPIs are i.e. on the chart when they show various things on an airfield, do they show where the PAPIs are. $\endgroup$
    – ha9u63a7
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ For many airports, the A/FD has a chart. That shows the PAPI locations, if any. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, was going to mention it, just one thing, the FAA has renamed the A/FD resource as the "Chart Supplements". $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithS: I didn't know that! Thanks. I'll update. Looks like the link still works. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 16:44

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