NBP PAPI and MCG Surge Protection

March 9, 2015

       The New Bedford Panoramex PAPI system is a visual indication system that allows pilots to ensure that the aircraft is on the proper glide slope during approach for a landing.  PAPI stands for Precision Approach Path Indicator.  These indicators are located on the airfield at the side of the runway facing the approaching aircraft. Depending on the pattern of lights seen by the pilot, they let the pilot know if they are coming in too steep, too shallow, or just right. The main components that make up the system are four indicator assemblies (LHA) and a power and control assembly (PCA).  

         Since the PAPI system is located on the airfield, surge protection devices are employed to prevent damage to the system’s electronics during a surge event.  The previous PAPI system used halogen indicators and also employed protection, as required.  However, several years ago a more efficient and reliable L.E.D. (light emitting diode) based system was developed, which required a new set of surge protective devices to meet the current FAA standards. This new system is called PAPI Next Generation.  The Next Generation PAPI System is a low power, low maintenance high reliability system.  MCG and NBP have been working together for 36 months to devise a comprehensive protection solution to protect the new system from lightning and utility surges.  The MCG surge protective devices (four designs in all) designed for this state-of-the-art system fully protect the equipment from surges on both the AC power lines and the data/signal lines interconnecting the components.

         Working with Dean Munson (Design Engineer) of NBP, MCG’s Chief Engineer, Dion Neri, developed a family of new protectors that work together and meet the stringent requirements of the FAA surge test parameters.  Protector size constraints were also addressed due to the confined area allocated to mount the protectors.  The surge protective devices (SPD) designed for the PAPI consist of two types of AC protectors and two types of data line protectors.  Each of the four LHA use a 120/240VAC SPD for protecting the AC loads and a heavy duty, 2-wire data line SPD for the communication line.  At the PCA, for the AC lines there are 2, 120/240VAC SPD, a 120VAC SPD, and a 8-wire, heavy duty data line SPD employed.  The whole system (PAPI + SPD) has been tested to confirm that it can withstand high-energy surge currents repeatedly while continuing to function properly.  Critical grounding methods and product placement were also key to the success of the program, allowing the protectors to effectively divert any surges away from the PAPI system’s electronics.

         We are pleased that NBP chose MCG Surge Protection to develop the surge protection system for this critical PAPI Next Generation system, and we are currently supplying NBP with quality protection devices that exceed FAA requirements, thus ensuring a reliable system for years to come.