Pilot Controlled Lighting

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
Anybody know exactly how the system works? This post really could have gone here or under "your the captain" but we were taxiing out of Jacksonville, NC last night and at the start of the taxi all the runway, taxiway and approach lights were on due to a bunch of Cobras who had been doing pattern work. We had to sit out a wheels up time in a runup pad and during the sit all the lights went out. We waited until about 3 minutes before our departure time before trying to turn them back on and despite clicking 7, 5 or 3 times the only thing that would come on was the approach lighting. So we WERE on the correct frequency, and it WAS working, but only for the rabbit and approach lights.

During that time period Wilmington cleared us to go, but of course, post CMR5191, nobody is going to take off on a dark runway anymore (it's actually in our manual now that we can't). So the FO kept trying to get the lights on and after a few times of him trying everything came up and off we went.

Any ideas why the first few times we could only get the approach lighting to come on?
 
R

Roger, Roger

Guest
Did you read the A/FD entry for the airport? If there is anything oddball with the lighting, it will be listed in there, usually under remarks.
:Edit: According to the A/FD, only step 3 (high) is available for HIRL. The way I read it, 3 or 5 clicks would only turn on the approach lights/REIL/VASI. So it looks like the 7-click attempts just weren't timed quite right. Those things can be finicky...
 

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
AFDs aren't exactly accessible to us in the jet. In fact, I don't think I've seen one in the last 4 years.

But I know we DID try 7 clicks a whole bunch of times.
 
R

Roger, Roger

Guest
AFDs aren't exactly accessible to us in the jet. In fact, I don't think I've seen one in the last 4 years.

But I know we DID try 7 clicks a whole bunch of times.
Who knows then. And I kinda figured you wouldn't have A/FDs in there, seems to be much more of a GA thing.
 

Barty

Well-Known Member
AFDs aren't exactly accessible to us in the jet. In fact, I don't think I've seen one in the last 4 years.

But I know we DID try 7 clicks a whole bunch of times.
Probably just doing it too fast. It took 4-5 attempts for me to get the lights to come on at one of the airports near here.

I checked about 3-4 airports before I finally found an up to date print AF-D for the Southeast, and it was the last one they had. Nobody seems to carry them anymore.
 

unclenobby

Well-Known Member
It's happened to me a few times coming in to land at my home airport.....key the lights and only the approach lights and rabbit come on. I ask if field mgmt (non towered field) are on frequency and can they switch all the lights on and voila on they go (without a response!). So I think management activate components of the system for use......so when someone wants to turn on the VASI or PAPI on a VFR day they are not lighting up the whole field and wasting electricity....that's my two cents not a definitive answer by any means.
Then again, you mentioned all the lights were on during taxi so there goes my theory!!
 

Joe

Well-Known Member
I'm not an expert on the actual equipment, but my line service job also involves airport operations. At OQU (and I imagine other airports) the approach lights PCLs receive from a different antenna than the rest of the field lighting. If I'm at the north end of the airport (where the MALSR for RWY 16 are) and the timer runs out, clicking the mic again will only adjust the approach lights. I have to drive halfway back down the runway until I can turn on the runway and taxiway lights. So, your position on the ground in relation to the antenna could affect it. I've never seen it as an issue from anyone flying in, though.

In addition, I think the sensitivity of the antenna might be able to be adjusted (but I don't know this for a fact). One night the weather seemed to be interfering with it, causing it to change intensities on its own. Since then, the tower will occasionally have trouble activating them (testing before closing), so they'll borrow one our handhelds for the night and they'll work fine. One night they asked a taxiing Cessna 172 to turn them on, which didn't work, but they worked fine from the truck; the tower controller seemed to think my mic clicks were stronger. And again, I haven't heard of any flights having issues with them in the air.
 
R

Roger, Roger

Guest
At OQU (and I imagine other airports) the approach lights PCLs receive from a different antenna than the rest of the field lighting. If I'm at the north end of the airport (where the MALSR for RWY 16 are) and the timer runs out, clicking the mic again will only adjust the approach lights. I have to drive halfway back down the runway until I can turn on the runway and taxiway lights.
I think we have a winner! That would certainly explain what went on.
 

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
That's very interesting. We were parked right next to the approach lighting. In the past I've turned on the lights from the air, from the ramp and from the approach end of 23 but never at the approach end of 5 where I was last night. Another thing too that would support that theory is we were transiting on COM1 for Wilmington and COM2 for local traffic (and the PCL). The antenna for COM2 is underneath the airplane and I guess, depending on where the PCL antenna is, it's entirely possible the wing was blanking out the transmission. It wasn't until I taxied from the runup bad up to the hold short line that we were able to get the lights to come on.
 

Ray Finkle

New Member
About all I can add is the things are finicky as crap. Ive had some the time very well with the clicks, other times it takes several attempts. Ive also noticed that if you are clicking and get even partially stepped on, it wont work.
 
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