FAA Airport Lighting Certification

Airport Lighting Certified by Elite

Anyone visiting an airport, especially at night, can’t help but notice the lights lining the runways, taxiways, and perimeters of the site. The lights are critical to maintain safety as aircraft move in, out, and around the airfield.

Airport lighting devices are safety-critical, just as are the components on the aircraft that are guided by those lights. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established the Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP) in 1995, establishing a qualification process for third-party laboratories to certify all types of lighting devices and support equipment.

Airports seeking Federal grant assistance must show that lighting equipment has been certified under the ALECP. FAA certification is required in the US but is also recognized in other countries as evidence of independent evaluation and compliance with high standards of quality and performance.

Elite is accepted by the FAA as an ALECP Third-Party Certification Body for all types of airport lighting equipment (L-types). Elite’s testing capabilities, certification expertise and exceptional customer service have made us the first choice for airport lighting manufacturers.

Airport lighting devices need to show compliance with criteria specified in the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5345 series, covering areas including optical and electrical requirements, structural integrity, and maintainability. In addition, production quality is assessed annually by the third-party certification body.

Certification is a continuous process that assesses manufacturers and qualifies products through testing. The goal for Elite’s manufacturing customers is ongoing compliance with the ALECP requirements. Elite’s certification program is ISO 17065 accredited and audited regularly by the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the FAA.

Download our Certification Program Overview for more details on the complete process, from application to listing on the FAA Certified Equipment and Manufacturers List (FAA AC 150/5345-53D Addendum).

Brad DeGrave and Kevin Halpin lead Elite’s FAA certification program. Both are active participants in the aviation industry’s work with the FAA as lighting technology and standards evolve. They recently attended the Illuminating Engineering Society Airport Lighting Committee (IESALC) Government Contacts Subcommittee Meeting to hear the latest research, and present an update on Elite’s FAA certification program. Here are the key highlights from the FAA and industry:

  • Engineering Brief (EB) 105 was recently released to specify design and lighting requirements for “vertiports” used by vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft with electric propulsion.
  • New draft of AC 150/5345-46F was released for industry comment, including new heliport and vertiport lighting types.
  • Updated FAA research on solar-powered lights and runway closure markers.
  • Requirements for new LED lamps to replace incandescent lamps in runway approach lighting systems (MALSRs).
  • New Federal funding availability from recent legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Buy American Acts.

Elite’s FAA Testing Experts Brad DeGrave and Kevin Halpin

Brad and Kevin are among the experts Elite’s customers rely on for information on FAA requirements and test techniques. Contact Elite to find out much more about how Elite can guide your airport-lighting device through the FAA certification process.

For more information on airport lighting equipment and certification, plan a visit to the IESALC Fall Technology Meeting in Scottsdale, AZ.

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Employee Spotlight — Brad DeGrave

You Can See His Work from the Air – Elite’s Brad DeGrave

Elite has the distinction of being one of only two test labs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepts as a third-party certifier of critical airfield lighting. The FAA’s Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP) puts test labs through a rigorous qualification process before granting the authority to certify on its behalf. At Elite, the leader of the team receiving and maintaining that distinction is Brad DeGrave. 

Since joining Elite, Brad and his team have enhanced the photometric lab, making Elite one of very few facilities covering a broad range of services. Elite’s photometric lab joins the longstanding electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) lab and the renowned environmental lab that covers all ranges of mechanical stress testing.

A Northern Illinois University graduate, Brad’s industrial engineering career took him first to Caterpillar in Aurora, Illinois, where he held a variety of roles in manufacturing. He later moved on to ETS-Lindgren as a manufacturing and facilities engineer, then later as a manufacturing supervisor.

“I worked for some years at ETS-Lindgren in Glendale Heights,” Brad says. “We made shielded enclosures for medical and industrial applications (such as Elite). That facility relocated to Texas, and so did I.” Brad began his role as manufacturing supervisor after his move to Texas.

“My family and I wanted to move back to the Chicago area. I learned about Elite’s plans to expand their environmental testing department and began here in 2016.” Brad held other manufacturing roles for a couple of years and returned to Elite in 2019 when he became the FAA Program Administrator.

Brad reviewing test plans with Todd Bruhl

In October, Brad is participating in the Illuminating Engineering Society Aviation Lighting Committee (IESALC) Technology Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. Elite’s involvement in FAA airfield safety runs deep. Brad explains: “Airfield lighting devices — the lights, the controllers, the power supplies, the cables – all require testing to receive a certificate, which is typically good for eight years. The devices need to be re-certified at the end of the certificate, and the manufacturers’ locations are periodically inspected to assure the airfield devices are being assembled according to spec.”

Brad also serves in the Army National Guard as a First Sergeant based in Chicago. He is the senior trainer supporting the unit’s overall readiness and is the senior enlisted advisor to the commander. His responsibilities in his military role mirror those in his civilian role ensuring aviation safety.

Brad and his team are one of the reasons your next return on an airplane will be smooth and safe. If you’re in a plane making its approach at night, look at the approach and runway lights and remember that Brad’s team is among those making sure the lights are safely guiding the way.

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The Pilot’s Best Friend — Airfield Lighting Photometry

Anyone visiting an airport has seen the constellation of lights on the airfield. Runway and taxiway lights, obstruction lights, approach lights, beacons, and more. They look like holiday decorations from a distance, but they’re a vital part of aviation safety.

The critical role these lights play in the safety of aircraft landings and takeoffs requires that rigorous standards be met. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepts third-party certification under the Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP).

Elite is one of two test labs accepted under ALECP. Elite’s FAA Program Administrator Brad DeGrave leads the FAA Airport Lighting Certification Team and explains the tests along with Elite’s role.

Elite’s Brad DeGrave setting an amplified detector in the photometric lab

Elite has been accepted by the FAA as a Third-Party Certification Body, which means Elite can determine compliance to the FAA’s Advisory Circulars (AC) through testing, and if the equipment meets the standard, Elite can issue the Certificate of Conformance that is submitted to the manufacturer and the FAA.”

Elite’s certification activities aren’t limited to its own lab, Brad explained. “We can also witness testing that requires special equipment and is performed at the manufacturer’s site, and if requirements are met, we can then issue the Certificate of Conformance. As a certification body, we are also responsible for conducting the required audits and inspections of the manufacturer’s facility.”

FAA AC 150/5345-53D is the ALECP’s guiding document. Each piece of equipment has an AC to outline the design and test requirements, which include photometry, environmental, and electrical testing. All of this is in the service of assuring that aircraft can see consistent airfield lights in all conditions.

Another piece of equipment that is certified but not on the airfield is obstruction lighting. This equipment must operate at up to 95% relative humidity, and survive winds of 150 mph, wind-blown rain, salt fog, and sunshine exposure. Covers must meet specific color requirements. The control equipment for the lights needs to meet similarly harsh requirements.

Elite’s Brad DeGrave and Jessica Kramer setting up a power supply for an airfield lighting test

Elite’s photometry lab measures light intensity levels, flash rates, color, and beam spread, characterized by both daytime and nighttime levels. Each type of light has specific photometric requirements depending on its intended use. These types of lights include runway threshold lights, runway end identifiers, and in-pavement lights for runways and taxiways. Similarly, airfield signs must meet FAA specs for visibility and environmental durability.

As one of only two test labs accepted by the FAA to issue airfield lighting equipment certifications, Brad and his team are critical links in aviation safety.

For more information, contact Elite to ask about photometry lab capability and put Brad’s team’s experience and expertise to work for you.

Join Elite’s monthly newsletter for the latest on standards, test procedures, fascinating facts, profiles of Elite engineers, and more. Fill out the form below to become part of our global community!

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By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Elite Electronic Engineering, Inc., 1516 Centre Circle Drive, Downers Grove, IL, 60515, US, http://www.elitetest.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.

Choosing the Best Option for FAA Airport Lighting Certification

More than $3 billion is allocated each year for airport infrastructure projects through the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). FAA ALECP certification is the only path for airport lighting equipment manufacturers to reach this market – and now there is a better option to complete the journey. Elite can now independently issue Certificates of Conformance and list all L-types in the FAA AC 150/5345-53D addendum.

Elite is accepted as a Third Party Certification Body in the FAA Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP). We chose to become a third party certification body after listening to several manufacturers detail the obstacles of the existing certification process. We quickly recognized that our strengths and diverse experience as a family-run, independent test lab were perfectly suited to overcome those obstacles. We want to help streamline your certification process and be your partner in delivering high-quality airport lighting equipment to users around the world.

After many years without options, manufacturers have new questions to consider when deciding how to certify their products:

1. Which Third Party Certification Body is the best fit for my business?

For the first time in a long time, manufacturers have a choice for their qualification testing and certification providers. All Third Party Certification Bodies listed in the FAA AC 150/5345-53D addendum (Appendix 1) are granted the same authority to test, certify, and list all L-types. Now you can consider what you expect from a certification body and choose the best partner to achieve your goals.

2. Should I sign up with more than one Third Party Certification Body?

Manufacturers may sign license agreements with as many certification bodies as they choose. Each certification body is responsible for only the products that they test and certify. With more than one certification body to choose from, you have more control over schedule and cost with fewer bottlenecks to deliver certified products to your customers. Some overlapping audit requirements are a small price for speed and flexibility for every product you certify.

3. Are all Third Party Certification Bodies the same?

Most definitely not – Elite’s customer service and collaborative culture set us apart from other labs. All certification bodies have the same recognition from the FAA and must follow the requirements of FAA AC 150/5345-53D, but that is where any similarities end. For more than 65 years, Elite has earned the trust and confidence of thousands of manufacturers in diverse industries. To help manufacturers succeed, we deliver on their expectations for accurate testing and reporting, fast turnaround, flexible scheduling, clear communication, and strong relationships with our expert staff.

Ready to streamline testing and certification?

Don’t let FAA certification slow you down. You can expect more from Elite and free your staff to focus on your business and your customers. We want to hear what is important to your business and offer a better path to FAA certification.

Testimonials of how we deliver success

“This year being as challenging as it was and our organization releasing new products on new platforms was a huge concern of mine as project manager. [After a half day of support,] Elite was then able to run our setup and products thus limiting travel, hotels, and time overall as well as risk to our Test Engineer. I look forward to more of our testing operating this way. Well done. Scheduling and quotes have come back extremely fast as well.”

“After working with Elite for many years now I can say they always go above and beyond. [When a new test requirement came up,] Elite’s engineers were more than willing to investigate, experiment, and even put out the capital necessary to upgrade their equipment to meet my needs. Thank you Elite team, we are glad to have you as a partner!”

“I only use Elite due to the incredible efforts of the staff, the professionalism, the quality of the data and the overall affordability and ease of use of having Elite as a testing partner.”

FAA Airport Lighting Certification with Elite

Elite Electronic Engineering, Inc., has been officially accepted as a Third-Party Certification Body for all types of airport lighting equipment under the FAA AC 150/5345-53D Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP). We are only the second laboratory to achieve this recognition from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and now airport lighting manufacturers have a new partner to meet their qualification testing and certification requirements.

Contact us today to get started.

After several years of effort to fulfill the strict requirements set by the FAA, the Elite FAA Airport Lighting Certification team is ready to help manufacturers complete testing and certification quickly and deliver high-quality products to airports around the country.

“Our background as a testing laboratory and certification body with diverse capabilities uniquely positioned us for ALECP. We see this as an opportunity to deliver our brand of responsive customer service, flexible scheduling, and trusted expertise to airport lighting manufacturers and help them reach more customers in the U.S. and internationally through certification,” according to Brad DeGrave, Elite’s FAA Program Administrator. “We also recognize the great responsibility entrusted to us by the FAA to ensure that dependable, compliant visual aids are available to airport operators around the country.”

Expertise in several technical disciplines is required to qualify all aspects of airport lighting equipment, as specified in the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5345 Series. With more than 80 total staff, Elite has highly experienced engineers in EMC/EMI, Electrical, Environmental Stress, Mechanical, and Photometric Testing. Elite has been a leading independent testing laboratory since 1954 and continuously accredited to ISO 17025 since 1986 for EMC/EMI and Electrical Testing, since 2001 for Environmental Stress and Mechanical Testing, and since 2018 for Photometric Testing.

But certification is more than qualification testing. Ongoing compliance with the requirements of FAA AC 150/5345-53D is necessary maintain certification and it is the Third-Party Certification Body’s role to audit manufacturers’ quality management systems and production processes. Elite’s FAA certification program is ISO 17065 accredited and we have 20 years of experience as a third-party certification body. We leveraged that experience to design an efficient, customer-focused certification program because we understand the considerable effort required by manufacturers to design, test, certify, and continuously comply with ALECP requirements.

Our goal is to be your trusted partner throughout the certification process. “Behind our extensive capabilities and credentials, we are a small company focused on building lasting relationships with our customers,” explained Brad DeGrave. Whether you already have certified products, or you are just getting started, the Elite team is ready to help you achieve your testing and certification goals.

Contact us today to learn more about adding your products to the FAA Certified Equipment and Manufacturers List (FAA AC 150/5345-53D Addendum) with Elite.

Find out more about Elite’s FAA Airport Lighting Certification program.


Join Elite’s monthly newsletter for the latest on standards, test procedures, fascinating facts, profiles of Elite engineers, and more. Fill out the form below to become part of our global community!

Newsletter Sign Up

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Elite Electronic Engineering, Inc., 1516 Centre Circle Drive, Downers Grove, IL, 60515, US, http://www.elitetest.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.

Employee Spotlight: FAA Certification Team

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 DFAA 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.


Airport Lighting Qualification in One Location

With the addition of ISO 17025 accredited Photometric Testing, Elite is now fully equipped to test and qualify airport lighting equipment in accordance with FAA, ICAO, and Canada specifications. The ongoing transition from incandescent to LED light sources throughout the airport lighting industry is introducing new challenges for electrical, mechanical, thermal, and photometric performance along with substantial improvements in efficiency and longevity. Building on 60+ years of testing experience, Elite has invested time and resources over the last five years to deliver the specialized testing capabilities required for airport lighting equipment qualification in one location.

In the U.S., airport lighting equipment is certified under the FAA Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP) defined in FAA AC 150/5345-53D. While Elite is not yet an FAA Third Party Certification Body, we are ready to assist with developmental and qualification testing in support of certification.

ICAO Annex 14 and Canada TP312 specify performance requirements outside the U.S. but they are not part of a formal certification program. For these standards, Elite provides accredited testing to independently verify product conformity to help differentiate manufacturers’ equipment and easily satisfy their customers’ specifications. 

Elite offers complete testing services for all aspects of airport lighting equipment development and qualification:

  • Photometrics – Steady and Effective Intensity, and Color per FAA AC 150/5345 Series, ICAO Annex 14, and TP312.
  • EMC/EMI – FCC Part 15 Emissions; CE Mark Compliance for EMC and LV Directives; TCB Certifications.
  • Environmental – Temperature, Humidity, Solar Radiation, Water/Dust Ingress, Salt Fog, Vibration, Shock and more per MIL-STD-810.
  • Mechanical – Tension, Compression, and Bending to Simulate Wind and Yield Loads.
  • Lightning/Surge – Utility-Grade Surge and Transient Protection Testing.
  • Highly Acclerated Life (HALT) – Compress product life with temperature and vibration cycling to find and diagnose failure modes.

Contact us today to experience the Elite testing advantage of technical expertise, flexible scheduling, and trusted results to qualify your airport lighting equipment. Or visit us at Booth 104 during the IESALC Fall Technology Meeting on October 3.