Airfield Improvements at Lubbock Executive Include Elevated Linear Taxiway Lights

Airfield Improvements at Lubbock Executive Include Elevated Linear Taxiway Lights
Victoria Jensen
Published in: 

Lubbock Executive Airpark (F82) has a colorful, storied past. The small Texas airport used to close on weekends so race enthusiasts could use its 3,500-foot runway as a drag strip. And until recently, the airfield was lit by all-weather 75-watt light bulbs purchased from the local hardware store.

Remembering the old days makes Airport Manager Drew Morrison chuckle.

“For years, this airport was just a ‘Mom and Pop’ operation,” says Morrison. “The bulbs would get checked every day on runway inspections. If one bulb was out, you just go to the store, pick a new one up and screw it in. It was really a ‘wild west’ airport out here in Lubbock.”

But things began to change after two local residents purchased the airfield in 2020. Now, the airport has a 5,142-foot concrete runway with modern LED fixtures; and it also has high-tech linear LED taxiway lights.


Project: New Runway & Taxiway Lights

Location: Lubbock (TX) Executive Airpark

Cost: $7 million for new runway & lighting

Associated Projects: $3 million for hangars, new FBO office & ancillary airfield improvements

Airport Owner: BRP Aviation

Owner of Fixed Base Operator: ClearTech Aviation

Lighting Installation: July 2023

Of Note: New linear LED taxiway lights are elevated on concrete pier

Patent Holder for Linear LED Lights: Luminaerospace LLC

Light Supplier: Faias Lighting Products

Electrical Contractor: Driven Electric

Key Benefits: Improved visibility & safety; enhanced energy efficiency

“The project has been such a huge improvement,” reflects Morrison, who has managed the airfield since it was purchased three years ago. “We’re turning this property into a real airport and running it top-notch. We felt like new ideas and new technology were right where we wanted to be.”

The recently completed $7 million of airfield improvements, all privately funded by the new owners, are already reaping results. With a longer runway, the airport is serving larger aircraft and experiencing more traffic overall. Previously, five to 15 operations per day were typical; now it averages 15 to 45.

The 1,642-foot runway extension and other pavement enhancements were completed in June, transforming the old asphalt strip into a full concrete runway. New airfield lighting was installed in July.

Morrison says that lighting was a critical part of the project, and increasing nighttime visibility was a particular objective. “We knew we needed to address lighting in a big way, and we wanted to go to LED for reliability, costs savings in terms of use of energy, and an overall brighter product,” he explains. “Lumens-wise, it might not always be brighter, but the lights certainly appear as such.”

Crews installed a total of 160 runway and taxiway lights supplied by Faias Lighting Products. Eventually, pilots will be able to turn them on from the cockpit as needed. But for now, the airport switches the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Because the new LEDs draw such a small amount of electricity, Morrison is considering using a photocell to keep them on from dusk to dawn. “Then, it can be up to the pilots to control medium or high intensity,” he adds.

Joe Fariz, chief executive officer of Faias Lighting Products, explains that the airport’s new LED runway lights operate off of a single 20-amp AC circuit. “LED has changed the world,” he remarks. “We don’t need a regulator. We use standard AC power and can run the whole airport on a single 220-240 volt line with full step control. Our voltage system is unique. No one else has an AC system that does the three steps of dimming. Others basically only offer on or off. Our system generally saves a small general aviation airport from $10,000 to $60,000 in lighting equipment and installation costs compared to constant-current regulator systems. When updating from incandescent to our LED system, an airport can realize 80% to 85% in energy savings, making the long-term savings really add up.”

Linear Taxiway Lights

In what Morrison describes as a revolutionary move, the general aviation airport opted for linear lights on its full-length taxiway. The system is a series of 26-inch-wide lights spaced about 100 feet apart, installed on concrete pads on the sides of the taxiway. Since the airport is self-funded, it is not subject to FAA regulations prohibiting this type of non-traditional taxiway lighting.

“We’re kind of in a black hole as there’s not a lot of extra lighting out here,” says Morrison. “The linear lights really highlight the edge of the taxiway by projecting the light parallel to the edge. Especially in a low visibility situation, it provides a clear outline and direction of the taxiway. And from the air, you can see the taxiway completely outlined, making it impossible to mistake for a runway. We could probably have done the runway like that too, but I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with something that critical.”

The elevated linear system, developed and patented by Luminaerospace, has a base upon which lights are affixed in a horizontal layout. One LED in the center pushes light to the end of each acrylic rod, brightly illuminating the entire 26-inch span.

Fariz says the linear lights, which resemble Star Wars light sabers, are especially effective at clearly defining taxiway edges, direction and entry points.

“Many times, in the middle of a storm or in poor visibility, a pilot will think, ‘Oh, that has to be the entrance to the taxiway,’ and then turns and ends up in the grass. There are a lot of those types of documented instances,” he explains. “With this linear edge, you have a nice, clearly defined edge, and conventional points can mark entryways. You can install a line that effectively says, ‘This is not an entryway.’ Or you can do a 90-degree two-light system, and the pilot then knows it is a safe entryway. The linear lights give a visual definition and depth not seen before.”

Scott Stauffer, co-founder of Luminaerospace, notes that the company expects to have FAA approval for its linear lights before the end of 2023.

New linear taxiway lights improve visual definition for pilots, even in low-visibility conditions.

More Improvements Underway

In addition to recent airfield enhancements, the airport is also expanding its hangar network and adding amenities to attract more corporate traffic. Crews recently completed four new hangars and are in the midst of constructing two more. The new facilities augment the main 77,000-square-foot hangar, which is owned by ClearTech Aviation, the resident fixed base operator.

Looking further ahead, infrastructure work is underway for an additional 13 corporate hangars “When the project is all said and done, we estimate we will have 30 new hangars,” Morrison reports.

One hangar was donated to Covenant Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Lubbock for its new pediatric helicopter. The hospital’s existing ambulance service will also be based at the airport hangar.

Other changes made since the airport ownership changed hands focus on customer convenience and service: remodeled facilities for pilots making refueling stops, luggage assistance, concierge services and courtesy vehicles.

Currently, the airport is the process of designing an instrument approach system. “We feel the lighting was critical for the instrument system upgrade,” Morrison notes. “So with the good runway lights and good taxiway lights now in place, we now are confident that we have increased the safety and operability of our airport.”

Amid all the changes and improvements, some vestiges of the “old days” at Lubbock Executive might remain intact. Morrison and the new owners are considering hosting airshows in the future, as they were always popular events for the local community and fly-in customers. Drag racing on the runway and hardware store lighting, however, are officially relics of the past.


2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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