French light runways for the A380

Middle East airports adjusting for the arrival of the A380 next year are being turned on to a new runway lighting system, especially designed to handle the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
French manufacturers Thorn Airfield Lighting have developed a new kind of runway edge lighting designed to withstand jet blasts from the A380’s mighty engines.

It will be given a Middle East debut in Dubai in June at the Airport Build & Supply Exhibition, which will showcase a huge range of innovative products and technologies from around the world within the airport and aviation sectors. Organised by Streamline Marketing, the event takes place at Airport Expo Dubai from 5-7 June.

Thorn Airfield Lighting will be one of several French companies situated within a dedicated French Pavilion, a feature at the exhibition for the first time. The pavilion is organised by UBIFRANCE, the French agency for international business development.

The new INL-REO lights, developed specifically by Thorn for airports due to receive the A380, are set into the ground making them less at risk of damage than traditional elevated runway edge lights.

Middle East airlines are important customers for the new A380 super jumbo, which recently passed an evacuation test in Germany. Emirates Airline is the biggest buyer worldwide with an order for 45 of the double decker aircraft. Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have also placed orders.


Laurent Laclédère, Area Sales Marketing Manager for Thorn Airfield Lighting, said, “The dimensions of the new Airbus super-jumbo mean that many airports need to make some modifications on the ground.

“The INL-REO lights have already been fitted at the airport of Toulouse in France, the home base of Airbus. Airlines in the Middle East are important customers of the A380 and we are hopeful that the region will become a major market for the new lighting system. The Airport Build & Supply Exhibition is a vital way of building this business.”

So far 11 companies have signed up to exhibit within the French pavilion. Other companies include Ulmer Aeronautique, which manufactures protective equipment for air crews, including oxygen masks, as well as runway lighting systems. The company will be launching its new Intelligent Airport Monitoring (IAM) system at the exhibition.

The Alstec Group will be exhibiting the latest innovations in baggage handling equipment while Samifi Babcock Equipment will showcase its range of mobile air-conditioning units for aircraft. Its new products include a device used to cool aeroplanes’ brakes on landing, an innovation of particular use in regions of high temperature such as the Middle East.

Sophie Issovits of pavilion organisers UBIFRANCE said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to promote French know-how in the Middle East. Airport development across the region has been estimated to exceed US$ 40 billion and, although there are now qualified people in place, local companies still suffer from a lack of experience and expertise in the aviation fields. This means that many opportunities exist for French companies, which have a growing presence in the Middle East aviation market. French aeronautic exports to the region in 2005 totalled 1,300 million Euros.”