August 23, 2020
Employee Spotlight: Meet our FAA Airport Lighting Certification Team
Elite was recently accepted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Third-Party Certification Body for all types of airport lighting equipment. We are only the second lab to achieve this recognition and now airport lighting manufacturers have a new option for their qualification testing and certification requirements.
The team is led by Brad DeGrave, our FAA Program Administrator, and includes Certification Specialists Jessica Kramer and Mark Gabalewicz. They bring together diverse knowledge and experience to ensure all aspects of airport lighting equipment meet design and performance specifications.
We asked the team about their roles in certification and the diverse knowledge and experience they bring together to help airport lighting equipment manufacturers succeed.
Why is FAA certification important for airport lighting equipment?
Brad D: FAA certification is important to ensure that all lighting products conform to a set standard. This ensures that quality products are being manufactured and used in airport operations. It provides a fair playing field for all manufactures to create a product that can be used anywhere in the US and is still consistent enough that a pilot knows what to expect when taxiing or landing at any airport.
Jessica K: Certification is important because customers can be sure they are getting a consistent quality product that meets the needs of pilots and airports.
Mark G: Certification verifies that equipment is operating at its highest degree of safety for the benefit of the flying public.
What is your role within the certification team and what expertise do you bring?
Brad D: My role is the Program Administrator and Certification Specialist. As the Program Administrator, I will be the main point of contact for manufacturers to answer any questions, guide them through the certification process, and completing manufacturer quality audits and production inspections. I will also ensure Elite stays up to date on our FAA Third-Party Certification Body requirements. As a Certification Specialist, I will be reviewing applications, reviewing submitted documents, ensuring qualification tests were completely accurately, and recommending certification for products meeting all design and performance requirements. I have been with Elite for over 2 years focused on Environmental Stress Testing. Prior to Elite, I have over 11 years of manufacturing experience in several different roles including Operations Supervisor, Industrial Engineer, New Product Development Engineer, Drafter and Designer, and Facility Management as well as contributing to several Safety, Quality, and Continuous Improvement teams.
Jessica K: My role in the certification team is to advise on Photometric Testing and procedures, and I will be reviewing the test results to recommend certification. I have 10 years of mechanical hardware design and support experience and 2 years of photometric testing experience so I know what it is like to be on both sides of the testing and certification experience.
Mark G: I have extensive knowledge in the qualification testing that Elite performs, and my role as Certification Specialists is to make sure that all testing as well as the certification process is completed according to the FAA Advisory Circulars and Elite’s procedures. I am an Environmental Stress Testing Team Leader and Senior Mechanical Engineer with 15 years of experience at Elite. I currently approve all test setups as well as review the final reports for accuracy, clarity, and completeness.
How do you help manufacturers through the certification process?
Brad D: I will be the main point of contact for manufacturers to contact with any questions they may have on the process of becoming licensed manufacturers or obtaining a certificate of conformance for their products.
Jessica K: I help answer technical photometric questions to help manufacturers understand compliance requirements and review the test results to recommend certification.
Mark G: I can guide them through what is needed to complete the certification process as well as give them advice on what I have learned about successfully preparing for qualification testing during my time at Elite.
Why is Elite the right partner for airport lighting manufacturers seeking FAA certification?
Brad D: Elite is a family-owned business and it really shows in the treatment of their employees and customers. Everyone is treated with respect and given the attention they deserve. Open communication is a large part of Elite’s operating process, so customers know what is going on with each test and where their products are in the certification process.
Jessica K: Elite has 20 years of certification experience and more than 65 years of testing experience. Our scheduling, testing, and reporting will go through the same communication process our customers experience and expect with all of our EMC, environmental stress, and photometric testing services. Certification is the new layer that strengthens our ongoing partnership with our customers.
Mark G: Manufacturers now have the opportunity to certify their products more quickly with Elite. In the past, by having only one certification body, there was a bottleneck to get new and revised products to the marketplace. Bringing Elite’s proven service and expertise to the market will simplify the process for manufacturers. Our central location is convenient for manufacturers in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
What is your favorite type of airport lighting equipment and why?
Brad D: Until a year ago, I did not spend much time thinking about airport lighting. Today I have a much deeper appreciation for the critical part that airport lighting plays in the safety of air travel. My favorite types of airport lighting equipment are whatever help the pilots put my plane on the ground safely, so my answer would be all of it.
Jessica K: My favorite airport lighting equipment is in pavement lights. They look so pretty while lighting the runway at night and, as a mechanical engineer, I always love to talk about bolts.
Mark G: My favorite part of the airport lighting equipment are approach lighting systems and runway end identifier lights that make up the visual guidance portions of the ILS (Instrument Landing System). Everything about its capabilities is fascinating and it is an important visual aid for a safe landing.
Learn more about our FAA Airport Lighting Equipment Certification program and how to connect with our team.