Laufer Wind’s Radar-Activated Obstruction Lighting System Passes FAA Scrutiny


Laufer Wind has successfully demonstrated its Aircraft Detection Sight Solution (ADSS), the first-ever trial against a radar-activated obstruction lighting system on a wind farm in the U.S. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory participated in the trial.

Laufer Wind is a technology leader in the field of radar-activated lighting for wind farms. The ADSS enables wind farms to keep FAA-required obstruction lights off at night, turning them on only when aircraft are detected in the nearby vicinity. Several wind farm developments in the U.S. have recently been permitted with the expectation that they will include radar-activated lighting systems, when approved by the FAA. The successful trial advances efforts to bring radar-activated lighting systems to market.

The demonstration consisted of Laufer Wind radars deployed around NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, controlling lights on an Alstom 3.0 MW turbine, a GE 1.5 MW turbine, and on a meteorological tower. FAA representatives flew various patterns against the ADSS, observing operation of the system from both the plane and on the ground. The purpose of the evaluation was to test the Laufer Wind ADSS system against a series of performance standards that the FAA has developed to address Aircraft Detection System (ADS) technologies that will minimize the impact of FAA-required obstruction lighting on nearby communities and wildlife yet at the same time maintain a high level of safety for pilots operating aircraft near the obstructions.

The FAA is not changing the obstruction lighting guidelines for wind turbine farms. This technology is simply a smart switch that will activate the lighting when an aircraft is within three nautical miles of any part of the obstruction. 

After its evaluation, the FAA was able to confirm that the Laufer ADSS system has met the requirements set forth in its performance standards. The FAA will issue report on the trial within the next few months.