The Federal Aviation Administration Office of Runway Safety and Operational Services formed a simulation team to investigate the safety effects of standardizing the use of aircraft landing lights in the airport environment. Specifically, the simulation team explored the procedural use of landing lights as a direct message to other pilots indicating that aircraft were cleared to depart. Thirty-two pilots participated in the study as either the Captain or First Officer of a B747-400 simulator crew. The simulator crews were divided into two groups or crews. Each crew flew either a set of 16 scenarios in an environment with a standardized use of landing lights or scenarios using current practices. In four of the scenarios in each environment, a confederate aircraft made an error that resulted in a runway incursion (RI) that could have resulted in an accident with the B747-400 simulator if not detected by the subject crews. Multidimensional measures of RI severity and situation awareness (SA) were made after each scenario. In general, the pattern of results suggest that standardizing the use of aircraft landing lights to indicate that aircraft were cleared to depart prevented or reduced the severity of RIs or accidents, and increased pilot SA. The data shows that crews in the standard condition held-short more frequently, generally experienced less severe incursions, initiated a response to RIs significantly faster, used the landing lights effectively as a first cue, and unanimously felt that safety was increased because of the standardized procedures.
Sierra, E. A.,
Racine, N. S.,
& Bender, K.
(2007). Effects of a Standard Landing Lights Message on Runway Safety. 2007 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 651-656.