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Penn Yan Airport serves as the first solar light testing site by the FAA (video)

  • / Updated:
  • Megan Hatch 

Penn Yan is officially the first airport in the U.S. to have solar lighting from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA is using Penn Yan’s airport to study how solar-powered lighting and signs along runways and taxiways could improve airfield lighting functionality and durability.

Penn Yan Airport conducting first solar lighting test in US

How the idea came upon the FAA

The idea of solar lighting testing in smaller airports was something that the lead researcher of the FAA’s Airport Safety Research & Development Section at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, Ryan King, came up with.

Darian Byrd, an FAA employee and Electrical Engineer at the WJHTC, explained that targeting smaller airports with less electrical infrastructure made sense.

“The idea was, hey, you know, let’s target those airports that don’t already have lights or maybe airports that don’t have as many operations we can. We can have them replace those out to bring down their cost savings for the year.”

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Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Solar airport lighting may be the future

King explained that currently, airports have an expensive underground wiring system that many other small airports don’t have the revenue to support construction costs.

“It’ll give an airport that wouldn’t otherwise have lights, the opportunity to enhance their safety by putting these lights on the airport,” said King.

“Solar emits no CO2, once they’re in place, and then there are cost savings over time.”

“It’s greener, you have less co2 emissions. I believe that the number of almost 200,000 pounds of carbon emissions that you’re you’re not going to have that with solar-powered lighting. So there’s plenty of added benefits.” said Byrd.

King said he hopes in the future that airport lighting across the country can convert to solar-powered lights.

“I hope that we get to a point where, not only can we put these on airports that don’t have lights, but we’ll be able to start replacing the lights that are on [larger] airports with solar lights.”

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