Let There be Light At San José’s Airport

October 2, 2009

Flights coming into JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport in Alajuela will no longer be left in the dark.

Public works and aviation officials on Tuesday unveiled the airport’s long-awaited approach lights, a project that required an investment of more $2.6 million and seven months of work.

The airport has been without approach lights since 2004.

The new lights will alleviate visibility issues pilots have experienced for several years when flying into Juan Santamaría airport. The overcast skies, clouds and fog of the Central Valley pose problems for pilots attempting to land, sometimes causing flights to re-route to Panama or DanielOduberInternationalAirport, in the northwestern Costa Rican town of Liberia.

The landing difficulties caused by the lack of lighting prompted the intervention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which said the airport did not meet the standards of an international Category I airport.

According to ICAO’s Annex 14, which contains the necessary standards and practices for airports, the lack of lighting placed Juan Santamaría in Category II. The installation of the approach lights satisfies the international Category I requirements of ICAO.

The new lighting towers span 900 meters and are located west of the freeway that flanks the airport. There are a total of 34 towers, each 30 meters apart. The lights, produced by the Siemens Corporation, have five different levels of intensity and are adjusted according to weather conditions.

According to the Public Works and Transport Ministry, the towers also were constructed to withstand harsh weather conditions and powerful wind gusts.

–Adam Williams

 

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