LAX Runway Status Lights Training for Pilots and Vehicle Operators

Runway Status Lights
Takeoff Hold Lights at LAX

The RWSL system is designed to automatically provide a direct status indication to pilots that a runway is unsafe to enter or cross with illuminated RED Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) and that a runway is unsafe for takeoff with illuminated RED Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs). In order to provide the desired level of safety without impairing the efficiency of the controller, the timing of the lights is critical. Pilots should recognize that the status light might be illuminated when the controller initiates a clearance, but they should be extinguished before the controller finishes issuing the clearance (if runway is safe). RWSL FUNCTIONS AUTOMATICALLY WITHOUT INPUT FROM AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AND THE SYSTEM IS NOT, AT ANY TIME, INTENDED TO CONVEY APPROVAL OR CLEARANCE TO PROCEED ONTO A RUNWAY OR TO TAKE OFF FROM A RUNWAY.

Pilot protocol when viewing illuminated RELs:

  1. When the RELs illuminate, the flight crew should remain clear of the runway.
  2. When cleared to either “take off, cross the runway, position and hold, or for immediate takeoff”, and RELs are illuminated, stop the aircraft and indicate to Air Traffic Control (ATC) that you are stopped with red lights and then wait for further clearance.
  3. If the aircraft crosses the hold line and the flight crew subsequently observes illuminated lights, then, if practical, the flight crew should stop the airplane and notify Air Traffic that they are stopped across the hold line because of red lights.
  4. If remaining clear of the runway is impractical for safety reasons, then crews should proceed according to their best judgment of safety (understanding that the illuminated REL indicates the runway is unsafe to cross or enter) and contact ATC at the earliest opportunity.

Pilot protocol when viewing illuminated THLs:

  1. If in position and holding on the runway and the THLs illuminate, then the flight crew should remain in position for takeoff.
  2. If an aircraft begins its takeoff roll and the flight crew subsequently observes illuminated THLs, then — if practical — the flight crew should stop the airplane and notify Air Traffic Control (ATC) that they are stopped because of red lights.
  3. If aborting the takeoff is impractical for safety reasons, then crews should proceed according to their best judgment of safety (understanding that the illuminated THLs indicate the runway is unsafe for departure) and contact ATC at the earliest opportunity.
  4. If on short final and THLs are illuminated red, then crews should inform ATC they are going around because of red lights on the runway.

Comprehensive training is provided in the briefings available for download below:

LAX RWSL – Training Briefing for Pilots, ATC, and Vehicle Operators (pdf)

Training cards:

LAX RWSL – 8.5” x 11” Training Card (pdf)

Poster graphics:

LAX RWSL – Poster (pdf)