The North Little Rock Airport's installation of LED lighting has made it a real bright spot for pilots flying at night.
The general aviation airport, at 8202 Remount Road on the city's northern edge, has retrofitted all of its airfield lights from incandescent to the brighter LED -- light emitting diode -- lights. That includes its runway, taxiway and rotating beacon lights.
"When our new lights first got turned on, we actually had pilots of a couple of smaller planes who said they were thinking we were the Little Rock airport because they weren't used to seeing this airport being this bright," said Clay Rogers, the airport's director.
"These are a lot more energy-efficient lights," Rogers added. "They're a lot brighter and can be seen easier from the air at night."
The retrofitting cost $2.425 million, Rogers said, with about 90 percent coming from five Federal Aviation Administration grants and the balance from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.
Installing LED lighting has become common among the state's 92 publicly owned airports, said Jerry Chism, director of the state Aeronautics Department.
"It is a trend around the state," Chism said.
"LED lights are more visible, are cheaper to operate and have a longer life span than incandescent lights," he said. "Pilots get better visibility, and airports get lower maintenance and operating costs."
More than $13 million in LED lighting upgrades have been made or are underway at Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field, said Shane Carter, spokesman for the airport. The switch started in 2007.
As part of the upgrades, Little Rock's airport began a $2 million project Aug. 29 on its east commercial runway that is scheduled to take 75 days to complete, Carter said. The work involves installing 164 LED lights on the runway's centerline, he said.
"Next year we're looking at installing shoulder pavement and edge lights on this runway," Carter said.
In 2014, Carter said, the airport installed LED lighting on its west, or primary, runway, which is the airport's main commercial runway. The cost was $4.7 million, Carter said. The work included converting shoulder and edge lighting to LED as well as on centerline and touchdown lighting.
Changing out the lighting at the North Little Rock Airport, Rogers said, has eliminated problems it had with its older incandescent lights burning out on runways and taxiways and will mean cost-savings for the airport.
"We had a lot of lights that were installed a long time ago," Rogers said. "We had a lot of electrical problems. The time to fix those when they would break and to troubleshoot them, and the time and the energy and the money it took to fix them, got to be more and more.
"This will save us money on our electric bills, save us money on our maintenance time and will allow us to be running more efficiently," he said. "Also, these lights are generally better for the environment."