Runway edge lights

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An aircraft landing at Zurich International Airport, with runway edge lights visible

Runway edge lighting are used to outline the edges of runways during periods of darkness or restricted visibility conditions. These light systems are classified according to the intensity they are capable of producing:

  • High intensity runway lights (HIRL)
  • Medium intensity runway lights (MIRL)
  • Low intensity runway lights (LIRL)

The HIRL and MIRL systems have variable intensity controls, whereas the LIRLs normally have one intensity setting. Runway edge lights are white, except on instrument runways where yellow replaces white on the last 600 metres (2,000 ft) or half the runway length (whichever is less), to form a caution zone for landings. The lights marking the ends of the runway emit red light toward the runway to indicate the end of runway to departing or arriving aircraft and emit green outward from the runway end to indicate the threshold to landing aircraft.

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