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Home / Technical Articles / My experience and guidance in the design and electrification of a modern airport

Mastering the airport electrification

The electrical systems for airports require proper quality installations and consideration for features usually not involved in other electrical installations. In this article, we will be discussing the general elements of electrical practices and facilities which have special significance for airport operations.

My experience and recommendations in the design and electrification of airports
My experience and recommendations in the design and electrification of airports (photo credit: Stevan Simenovic, via Linkedin)

Each airport is unique, and its electrical installation should be designed to provide economical power and control, which is safe, reliable, and easily maintained.

Electrification inside an airport is strictly defined by ICAO standards, along with generally applicable IEC and NFPA standards. Here are some of the most prominent ICAO and NFPA standards that guide the design and implementation of electrification in airports.

  • ICAO Annex 14: Electric Systems
  • ICAO Annex 14: Visual Aids for Navigation
  • Aerodrome Design Manual – Electrical Systems
  • NFPA 101- Life safety and 850 – Fire protection for Electric Generating Plants.
Basically, from the perspective of an electrical design engineer, an airport serves as a load center spread over a large area and consisting of multiple micro load centers. This is because of its large airfield area and multiple functional units. As the layout and orientations of airports around the world might vary as per local requirement and principal, we will be focusing on the general conceptualization that works for most of them.

Since this article focuses on an airport’s electrical design, there will be numerous terminology associated with the general layout of the airport and are used to illustrate the details of electrical installation with more clarity.

This article assumes that the reader is familiar with the basic terminologies related to electrical design and airport orientation.

Table of contents:

  1. Typical orientation of an airport
  2. Power supply and primary distribution in an airport
    1. Main energy sources and central plant
    2. Back-up energy sources
  3. Primary power distribution ring
  4. Low voltage distribution principle and load prioritization
    1. Load management and control mechanism
    2. Load prioritization in airports
  5. Illumination principle for public and other important area
    1. Lighting control
    2. Obstruction lighting
    3. Emergency lighting
  6. Airfield lighting design methodology and power supply requirements
    1. Major types of lights and visual aids in airside of an airport
    2. Constant current regulators and lighting circuit design
    3. Design considerations for series airfield lighting circuit
  7. Quick reminders and handy tips

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Bishal Lamichhane

Electrical Engineer (B.E Electrical, M. Sc Engineering) with specialization in energy systems planning. Actively involved in design and supervision of LV/MV substations, power supply augmentations and electrification for utilities and bulk consumers like airports and commercial entities. An enthusiast and scholar of power systems analysis.

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