Memphis International Airport (MEM), the 2nd busiest cargo hub in the world, and the home of FEDEX has benefited significantly from MALMS Commissioning and Acceptance service.
By deploying MALMS (Mobile Airfield Light Monitoring System) on all its recent runway rebuild projects, the airport has been able to ensure that any unexpected installation and component problems with the airfield lighting services, some very significant, have been identified prior to final commissioning. As a result, effective rectification work to establish lighting system performance well above minimum requirements has been completed as part of the build programme, and not something that the airport has had to deal with as a maintenance issue going forward.
A perfect example of this was during the re-build of the airport’s CAT III centre runway and adjacent taxiway. Visual inspection had indicated that the completely new AGL system was operating as specified, however, photometric measurements proved a real ‘eye opener’ by quickly highlighting that the overall runway system performance was below the required performance criteria, with a number of particular problems.
In one section of the touch down zone lighting, none of the lights were performing at the required level, with only a small number passing at or above the FAA standard of 50%. A subsequent detailed inspection revealed a hidden problem caused by a combination of fixture specification and standard installation practices. Additionally, testing of the elevated edge lights found a significant proportion that were also failing. Investigating this problem, it was found that many of the fittings were not assembled properly. Once identified, the contractor was able to quickly rectify all the problems.
Without this testing, discovering the problems would have taken much longer (probably after the runway had been commissioned and in use) but pinpointing specific issues, and determining the subsequent solution, would have been much harder and far more costly. Overall, the cost of a photometric survey was insignificant when compared to the overall cost of the whole project, but without it, the airport operator had no idea whether the newly installed system was indeed compliant.
Joseph Polk, Memphis Airport’s Manager of Construction explains, “Previously, we had no idea whether the AGL system installed actually met the required standards. Now we know that when the system is handed over to us for operation it has been built and performs to a high standard; well above the level required by the FAA and ICAO. Moreover, should the quality of the lighting system be called into question, in the past we would have had no way to prove that the system was effective when built. Now we have the advantage of having fully documented evidence of compliance.”