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Proceedings Paper

An imaging system that autonomously monitors lighting patterns with application to airport lighting
Author(s): J. H. Niblock; K. McMenemy; G. W. Irwin
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Paper Abstract

This paper presents a novel measurement system that assesses the uniformity of a complete airport lighting installation. The system improves safety with regard to aircraft landing procedures by ensuring airport lighting is properly maintained and conforms to current standards and recommendations laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The measuring device consists of a CMOS vision sensor with associated lens system fitted to the interior of an aircraft. The vision system is capable of capturing sequences of airport lighting images during a normal approach to an aerodrome. These images are then post processed to determine the uniformity of the complete pattern. Airport lighting consists of elevated approach and inset runway luminaires. Each luminaire emits an intensity which is dependant on the angular displacement from the luminaire. For example, during a normal approach a given luminaire will emit its maximum intensity down to its minimum intensity as the aircraft approaches and finally passes over the luminaire. As such, it is possible to predict the intensity that each luminaire within the airport lighting pattern emits, at a given time, during a normal approach. Any luminaires emitting the same intensity can then be banded together for the uniformity analysis. Having derived the theoretical groups of similar luminaires within a standard approach, this information was applied to a sequence of airport lighting images that were recorded during an approach to Belfast International Airport. Since we are looking to determine the uniformity of the pattern, only the total pixel grey level representing each luminaire within each banded group needs to be extracted and tracked through the entire image sequence. Any luminaires which fail to meet the requirements (i.e. a threshold value depending on the performance of the other luminaires in that band) are monitored and reported to the assessor for attention. The extraction and tracking algorithms have been optimised for minimal human intervention. Techniques such as component analysis as well as centre of mass algorithms are used to detect and locate the luminaires. A search algorithm is used to obtain the brightness (total grey level) of each luminaire. For the sample test at Belfast International Airport several luminaires were found that do not output sufficient intensity. As a final conclusion however, the Belfast International lighting pattern is legal and conforms to standards as no two consecutive luminaires fail in the pattern. The techniques used in this paper are novel. No known research exists that couples uniformity of airport lighting with photometrics. A solid basis has been established for future work on monitoring the individual characteristics of the luminaires. This includes colour and intensity measurements.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 February 2006
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 6068, Sensors, Cameras, and Systems for Scientific/Industrial Applications VII, 60680P (6 February 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.642901
Show Author Affiliations
J. H. Niblock, Queen's Univ. Belfast (United Kingdom)
K. McMenemy, Queen's Univ. Belfast (United Kingdom)
G. W. Irwin, Queen's Univ. Belfast (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6068:
Sensors, Cameras, and Systems for Scientific/Industrial Applications VII
Morley M. Blouke, Editor(s)

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